“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
“And the temperature will be in the balmy mid-forties next week with plenty sunshine!” The announcer on the radio said, as I was driving home a couple of weeks ago on the icy roads in the darkness of mid-January after a long workday. It was surprising but not unusual that we would have a warm up in temperatures that would have us all longing for the signs of spring. It happens every year in January or February, we have an amazing week of weather, the ice begins to melt on the hockey ponds, and everyone gets spring fever.
It got me thinking the following week, how we monitor our temperature daily seeing the climate changes and we know that indeed spring will come. We believe it without question even though at this point in the winter with snow falling down once again, it is very hard to imagine. If we let ourselves though we might picture green grass peeking through the snow as the sunshine lingers a little longer each day, and eventually those tulips will break forth from the ground and bloom in the colors that signal the bluebird and the mallard will soon return.
How often do you take your own temperature? I know I do not unless I am sick. It is important to your health that your temperature stays within a normal range. If it does not regulate, one might have heat stroke, fever, or suffer from hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include, weakness, a coolness to the surface of the skin, lack of focus or confusion, slowed heart rate, and uncontrollable shivering. This can even lead to death and these type of deaths occur every winter somewhere. Hypothermia is not something any of us want to experience, but living in the north country it is likely some of us have had moments when we have gotten a bit too cold especially when it is -20 outside. We take steps to ensure that we are warm, and do not experience the chill or put ourselves at risk for hypothermia when we head out to enjoy all that winter offers us. In the echoes of our minds, we hear our mothers, fathers, grandparents; reminding us to put on our hat and gloves, button up our coats, and even to wear warm layers underneath when it is cold.
How often do we check the ever-changing climate of our community? Are we responsive when the temperature drops, when the snow begins to fall, when symptoms of hypothermia set in? Above all, we are called as a church community to make disciples, to love God and love our neighbors. Do people find us weak, cool upon encounter, do we appear to be confused, distracted, and are we shivering with a slower pace and heartbeat? It certainly may not be true that we are experiencing hypothermia, but if it even appears visibly that we are, we send a message to our community that is distancing, distracting everyone from what God has commissioned us to be and do as the church.
What then is the diagnostic we use to measure and keep out temperature steady, it is through our entering into discernment processes, our discussions, and returning to explore our mission, vision, and values annually and intentionally. As we embark upon a new council year, committees are re-envisioning themselves and joining to work smarter and have more hands that are able. Each of us must do our diligence here as well to perform assessment and discernment, see what is bringing life, fulfilling our mission, and empowering people to grow in faith as disciples here. All of our voices are important to this work. Our mission is to “grow in God’s word and share God’s love” I challenge you in the coming days to think of how we share God’s love in our home community of Stillwater. How do we make disciples here? How do we invite and warmly embrace our local people and community? Is our heart beating at the right speed? May we with open hearts have the courage and wisdom to explore the options, and if needed put on our hat and mittens, so that we continue to be a steady source of warmth, light, and health in this community.
Peace, Pastor Suzy