Word for Word 9/8/21

Pastor Laura Gentry
Pastor Laura Gentry

In a recent letter to the editor, Dr. Steve Perkins asked us to stop belittling each other, saying there’s just too much anger. He concluded his powerful missive with: “It’s the only life we have together here on Earth… so let’s use it for positivity, kindness and love.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s an exhausting time for all of us. Emotions run high as we try to navigate our way through a deadly pandemic and an ever-increasing climate crisis, along with an endless array of thorny political issues. Sometimes, it feels like all we have is division.

President John F. Kennedy famously said: “What unites us is far greater than what divides us.” He was addressing the Canadian Parliament at the time so he was talking about the U.S. and Canada, but I believe it can be said of us and our fellow Americans: What unites us is far greater than what divides us.

Oftentimes, it takes a crisis to bring people together. Couldn’t we say we’re in crisis mode now? Why aren’t we more united?

On the last night of his life, Jesus prayed a prayer for his followers. He didn’t pray for their economic success, their happiness or even their safety. He prayed for their unity. He asked God to help them love one another. That was our Lord’s final wish.

As Christians, that love is at the center of our faith. We are called to love because God has first loved us. This compels us to take responsibility not just for ourselves but for our whole community, especially in this time of pandemic. Of course, this is a difficult challenge but unity matters to God. As we read in John 13:35: “all people will know that you are my disciples if you love each other.”

To that end, the congregation I serve in Lansing, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, is launching a public art project entitled “The Positive Sign Campaign.” Over the next several weeks, we’ll be creating fall-colored paintings on reclaimed pallet wood with uplifting, unifying and some humorous messages. They’ll be installed in the flower pots in the downtown district of Lansing. If we have enough participation, the signs may extend into other parts of town, including people’s yards.

We hope that coming together to present these life-affirming messages to the community will do us all a lot of good. It’s a campaign for greater compassion. We think it will inspire both locals and tourists passing through town to remember that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.

Everyone is invited to join us for the launch of the painting project. We will meet at the Lansing City Park, south of the baseball field on Front Street, from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, September 12. Adults and children alike are welcome. The signs will have the letters penciled in. All you need to do is grab a paint brush and fill them in. We will provide complimentary beverages for participants. If additional work days are scheduled, we will publish the information on our website: LansingLutherans.org.

We pray that love will unite us all and that we will know the joy of living together in a culture of mutual care and respect.

Rev. Laura Gentry
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Lansing