Saturday, September 25, 2021

Traveling up the Rhine River


This past Tuesday, September 21st my wife, Amy, and I got back from a nine-day trip to Europe. We took a long-boat trip on the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam. We took the trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, which was June 16, 2020. COVID stopped that trip.  The trip was plagued by uncertainty because Viking didn’t even begin travel in Europe until June 18th of this year.  Because we had waited so long, just boarding the plane was a success. 

In order to board the longboat, we had to be fully vaccinated and had to have a negative COVID test 72 hours before departure. 

I took pictures of each day of the trip that I posted on my personal Facebook page, facebook.com/hmoorepaul. 

Approximately fifty-five people traveled on the boat—half of capacity. The people were all Americans and lived all over the United States. Not many people came from the Midwest, only a couple from Rapid City and two couples from Springfield, Missouri. 

Viking treated us like royalty. Their staff was well trained and went out of their way to make us feel special.  Their excursions were very well organized and the guides they hired were outstanding. My only significant complaint with Viking was they changed the itinerary of our trip in August without our approval. They decided to have us travel in October instead of September. This didn’t work for Amy and me. It was only because of the excellent work of Stacy Henning, Amy’s sister and our travel agent, that we were able to get our original dates. The trip was also changed as we traveled from Basel to Amsterdam instead of Amsterdam to Basel. But despite all of these pre-trip changes, Amy and I would travel with Viking again. Travel agencies are under enormous pressure because of COVID. 

Each day we were offered excursions.  Some of the places we docked were Kehl, Rudesheim, Koblenz, Cologne, and Arnheim. 

I’ve traveled to Europe twice before. This time I got a sense of the long history. When we talk about history in Blaine, we probably go back a hundred years.  When the guides talked to us about history they went back two thousand years to the Romans. Frequently I heard stories from the 13th century and saw statues and other monuments that celebrated people who lived eight hundred years ago.   

The shadow of World War II still covers the areas that we visited. Almost every guide talked about World War II and thanked us as Americans for helping Europe be liberated from the Nazis. We saw many pictures of villages that were completely destroyed in World War II. Many monuments exist that share a special event in the war.  

One of my favorite parts of the trip was traveling up the Rhine and seeing many of the castles that are located near the river. Castles are not part of America. Seeing these structures that were built in some cases 900 years ago gave me a glimpse of what life was like in the Middle Ages. We had the opportunity to tour Marksburg castle in Braubach. People lived in this castle for over 700 years. Today it is open for tourism. Even though people were comparatively privilege to live in this castle, life was very difficult.  People in the castle were constantly concerned that people would attack the castle. The path to the castle was intentionally bumpy so people who wanted to attack the castle would have a hard time entering.  And people lived with the challenges of the time. A toilet was a hole that was about sixty feet above a path on the outside of the castle. People kept food in an elevated ice box. Ice was put in the bottom of the chest to keep cool food that was put over it. We were told that people slept sitting up as lying down was what happened to people when they were dead. They didn’t want to tempt fate.  A Wikipedia page about the castle is at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marksburg. 

I also was struck by the size of the Cathedral in Cologne. Construction was started in 1248 but stopped in 1560. Construction was started to house the relics of the Three Kings or Magi. When the Cathedral was completed in 1880 it was the tallest building in the world, over 500 feet high. That distinction lasted for four years until the Washington Monument was built. Today it is the third tallest Cathedral in the world. Can you imagine constructing that high without the machinery of today? Today it is Germany’s most visited site with over six million people visiting each year.

We experienced a much higher concern about COVID than what I’ve experienced in the United States. We wore masks anytime we were indoors. Viking had each passenger take a saliva test every morning. Amsterdam wouldn’t let foreigners into the City unless they had been quarantined for ten days. Because of this we were not able to tour Amsterdam.  

I know that I’m privilege to travel. Taking this sense gave me a deeper sense of the vastness of our world and the vastness of our history. 

I’m committed to writing a blog every seven to ten days. If you’d like to receive a notification when I write a blog, send me an email to pastor@colpres.org.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

I will never forget. 20 years after 911


I will never forget.

I will never forget that 2,996 people died that day--265 on four airplanes, 2606 at the World Trade Center, and 125 at the Pentagon. I will not forget among that number 344 firefighters, 71 law enforcement and 55 military personnel died.
I will not forget what I was doing that day. I started that Tuesday by praying in the new Infant Room of the church I was serving. When I was done the phone rang. It was my wife, Amy. She had been trying to contact me. "They're attacking us," she cried. Soon I found out what happened. I drove over to the church that Chuck Coggins served. He was a close pastor friend of mine. The two of us decided to go visit Father Don Connelly, the local priest in town. When we arrived Chuck and I shared with Father Don we were going to have a community prayer service at the Catholic church. Father Don didn't question this at all. The three of us watched the drama on television. We saw the towers crash. When one did I remember Chuck saying, "a lot of people just died." That night we had one of the most powerful, raw and emotional services that I had ever experienced. The clergy in town preached and prayed; the congregation sang; the Spirit was uplifted. I will never forget.
And I won't forget what happened to New York City. I lived there for three-and-a-half years. I love the City. I miss it. I went to the Twin Towers often. I ate many times at "Windows on the World." I remember riding the elevators to the top floor and viewing the world from the top of the World Trade Center. The first time I visited the site after 911, Amy and I were silenced by the heaviness of the place. I think of it often.
And I won't forget that love always outlasts hate. Always! Always! Always! It's a core principle of the universe. Love always outlasts hate.
And I won't forget my own life-long commitment to this love. I encourage you to make that same commitment too.
I will never forget!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Groundbreaking at Chain of Lakes Church

 

What a day! Chain of Lakes Church broke ground yesterday on our first-phase building. It was a day that the people in our congregation had been waiting for a long time. I shared in my sermon that the length of our wait made the day even sweeter. And oh was it sweet!

I’ve shared with folks at Chain of Lakes that if our events have PIE they will be successful, that is Prayer; Internal Enthusiasm; External Curiosity. I know the Groundbreaking received plenty of prayer. This is practically all I’ve been praying about for the last week. The Internal Enthusiasm was apparent to me when I arrived around 9:15am, seventy-five minutes before worship. Already close to twenty people had already arrived to help with the set-up. I discovered the external curiosity during the week as almost everyone who I invited seemed interested.

Chain of Lakes has had a team who met every Tuesday for the past five weeks to plan the Groundbreaking. And the team’s attention to detail was beautiful. They had three large tents set up and an additional five smaller tents along with 150 chairs and a sound system.  All of it was hauled to the property and set up. And everything worked beautifully.

But once the service started the logistics moved to the background and God’s Spirit took over. We started worship with a trumpet playing sections of Copeland’s Appalachian Spring. These were the first sounds in the worship space. Worship was held in the approximate space where the future worship space in the first-phase building will be. We called this the first worship service in the new space.  Obi Anizor, Val Owens, and my daughter, Hannah Moore, shared a litany of welcome. I wasn’t in tears only because I was focusing on not weeping. And before worship someone from the Praise Band playfully shared with me that they would give me $100 if I didn’t cry. The Music by the Praise Band was joyous. John Ivers shared the story of Chain of Lakes and then John Altrichter shared the story of the Building Campaign and thanked the large number of people who have given their time to this campaign over the last five years. We heard the story of the start of the church in Acts 2. And then I preached.

In my sermon I told many stories.  I shared the story of my wife, Amy and me coming to Blaine and ultimately receiving a call to build the one church. She is the Administrator at St. Joesph by the Lakes Catholic Church in Lino Lakes, and I’m the pastor of Chain of Lakes in Blaine. Through our leadership in these two congregations, we’re building the church. I looked at the story of Acts 2 and marveled at the spiritual energy. It was the spiritual energy that we were feeling yesterday.  I said.

It is a spiritual energy that comes from God and is available to all. It’s the energy of the church.  It’s much more than let’s jump up and down and wave our hands.  It’s the energy that inspires us to love each other deeply.  We won’t tolerate hunger because we can’t bear to see people who are hungry; we won’t tolerate unnecessary suffering, and we will go out of our way to care for people who are suffering.  We want people to experience this energy so we encourage people to learn the Scriptures, and have a relationship with Jesus; we encourage people to worship weekly because when people do they can experience the source of this energy; we won’t tolerate homelessness because that’s not what God intends for humans; we won’t tolerate or give in to divisions or extreme partisanship because God wants us to be together. 

And we celebrated what the church can mean to us. I shared that the

the church—is the ekkelsia, which is a Greek word that essentially means, “the community that is called out to represent something special.”  A community where people do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God; a place where individuals live by the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  A place where people are safe—and are given the space to heal from the wounds they’ve experienced.  A place where people discover who they are—what I call the Inspirational Intersection.  A place where people call the world to justice and righteousness.  And ultimately a place where everyone notices—like Tertullian did in the 2nd century—who noticed church people and wrote, “look how they love each other.”

 After the sermon I asked people to stand and recommit themselves to Chain of Lakes Church. Everyone else held up their hands in blessing. I then had everyone else stand and recommit themselves to building up the church. The people from Chain of Lakes held up their hands in blessing.

 At the end of worship we gathered to break ground. Everyone was encouraged to bring a shovel and most did. And though the ground was hard because of the lack of rain, we were eventually able to move dirt. Everyone who was present could receive a commemorative shovel and a small flower pot into which they could put their dirt.

After worship many of the kids kept digging their holes—for which kid doesn’t like to dig in the dirt?

Portions of the service can be viewed at: vimeo.com/manage/videos/587573200

The whole day was a symphony of wows. I was filled with awe because of the many wonders that were done. And just like that community in Acts was touched by what they saw, I felt the same way. This was one of the most moving services I had the opportunity to lead. The spirit from the service will stay with me for a long time.

 After worship we stayed for a long time to talk and celebrate and share many hugs. A large number of people from Chain of Lakes were hauling chairs two hours after worship ended. Many of the pictures of the day were shared on the Chain of Lakes Facebook page.

And so we move on—and we look forward to the start of construction. Assuming that final details of an additional loan will be approved, (we need the loan because the cost of materials have increased by a hundred thousand), construction will start in September.

I can’t wait to see dirt moved and then see a building arise. I know that the soil for that building has been prepared and the foundation has been set.

So many memories from yesterday. The happiness of an event well planned, managed, and executed will stay with me for a long time. And a day when I said, “wow” quite often. When I hear or say the word, “wow” I know that God is nearby because God is in the business of orchestrating wow. And yesterday God was the masterful conductor.

Would you take a moment to subscribe to this blog?  Put your email in the box on the right hand side of this blog.  You'll be asked a few questions to ensure you are really a human being.  You'll then receive an email whenever a blog is posted

Monday, August 9, 2021

The Community is invited! Groundbreaking celebration

 

I want to invite the community to the Groundbreaking on the first-phase building at Chain of Lakes on Sunday, August 15 at 10:30am. The worship service/groundbreaking will take place under a tent(s), so it will happen rain or shine. It's BYOS--Bring Your Own Shovel! It's not necessary, but if you know you are coming sign up at colpres.org and/or on the Facebook Event page. 

This event is meant for the wider community as the people of Chain of Lakes Church have always wanted to make an impact in the wider community. At the very first worship service Chain of Lakes collected Haiti Hygiene bags as a way to provide relief after the horrific earthquake in Haiti. For the past five years, Chain of Lakes has committed our congregation to be part of a movement to end homelessness in Anoka County. We do this by establishing partnerships with organizations who provide direct relief to homeless groups. We currently have partnerships with HOPE 4 Youth, Stepping Stone, Blaine High School, and HOPE for the Community. In the past two months we’ve established partnerships with River Trails Learning Center and Threshold to New Life. 

Our commitment to service comes from our faith. Being part of a movement that ends homelessness is more than “doing good.” It’s our own commitment to the Kingdom that Jesus launched when he came to the earth. 

The people of Chain of Lakes love to grow in personal faith. We have great dreams for prayer, and small groups, and worship in the new building. We have a deep desire to help people grow in their faith life, to be healthy in their relationship life, to be healed from the pain of past wounds, and to discover their identity (which I call the Inspirational Intersection, which is the intersection between what God wants us to do and be & what we want to do and be.) 

Chain of Lakes has worshiped in many different worship locations. We started at the Lino Lakes Senior Center, then worshiped at Da Vinci Academy, Roosevelt Middle School, Northpoint Elementary School, and since late 2014 at our location on Davenport. For the past two summers we’ve shared Drive-In worship on the church property. Our goal has always been to create a building in the Lakes neighborhood. Now we are finally ready to break ground. 

In finding out about the groundbreaking many people have shared congratulations and rewarded our congregation on our patience. We never thought it would take 12 years to celebrate a groundbreaking. I think these past 12 years have taught our congregation patience and dependance on God. We could have never gotten to this point without the workings of the Spirit. 

Come celebrate this Sunday, August 15 at 10:30 on the church property. The property is located on Main just east of Malmborg’s Nursery. Go to colpres.org for more information. 

Come and enjoy this community celebration!

 

 


Monday, August 2, 2021

Rebuilding not reloading--the disappointment of the Jose Berrios trade

I’ve been a fan of the Minnesota Twins ever since I listened to Herb Carneal and Halsey Hall broadcast games from the old Metropolitan Stadium. I used to keep score on an old red scorebook.  I still haven’t figured out why a shortstop is a “6” when a third basemen is a “5” and a second basemen a “4.” I’ve always been a fan. Fans have opinions, and I’m writing to share my opinion about the recent Jose Berrios trade. 

I wish the trade hadn’t happened. Even if the management of the Twins has received kudos for getting Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson, two high prospects for Berrios, the trade indicates that once again the Twins are in rebuilding mode instead of reloading mode.  Twins fans went into this season hoping that we would win a playoff series and at a minimum a playoff game. Now we’re hoping the Twins can make the playoffs in 2023. 

 It seems to me that it didn’t have to be this way. The Twins could have signed him during the off-season of 2019. Instead they haggled in arbitration. The Twins won the case, but lost the optics. Then they could have signed him after last season when Berrios again did well. I still don’t understand why Rocco took him out at the end of five innings in the playoffs last year. I remember seeing Berrios arguing in a professional way with Rocco in the dugout. He lost the argument; the Twins lost the game; now the Twins have lost Berrios, and Twins fans have lost any hope of winning a playoff series. 

This isn’t the first time the Twins have traded their ace for prospects. And it has worked out. I remember when the Twins traded Frank Viola to the Mets. That turned out to be a fabulous trade as Kevin Tapani and Rick Aguilera led the Twins to two World Series titles. I remember the Johan Santan trade when the Twins traded him again to the Mets for Carlos Gomez and others who most don’t remember.

Trading Berrios makes me feel the Twins are a small market team again. I could understand the Twins trading our ace pitchers when they played in the Metrodome. That stadium never allowed the Twins the revenue streams they needed to pay for an ace. But the Twins promised that playing in Target Field was going to change this equation. We were going to keep our homegrown stars and money was not going to be an object to keeping the players that they developed.

The Twins kept their promise by signing Joe Mauer to a 184 million dollar contract.

But now we’re back to rebuilding mode. This trade feels like it has brought the Twins back to the Metrodome days.  A player is developed and then traded off for prospects. The prospects might be good and like the Viola trade they might lead the Twins to the World Series. But I think that Berrios could have led the Twins to the playoffs. I’m more interested in them consistently winning playoff games then having highly rated prospects.

The Twins have rewarded their fans with championships. I’ll never forget watching Frank Viola shut down the Cardinals in game 7 in 1987; and who can forget Kirby’s homerun and then Jack’s masterpiece in 1991. The Twins made the AL Championship in 2002 and have won eight division titles in the last twenty years.  We’ve had reasons to celebrate. And with Derek Falvey and Thad Levine it seemed that the Twins were going to replace non-productive players with younger players from their farm system without missing a beat.

But this trade reveals that the team has missed a beat. Quality pitching at the top of the rotation hardly exists right now.

Which leads me to my final point—sign Byron Buxton! Like Berrios he is a player that the Twins developed from the farm system. And he has been injured, and there are no guarantees that he won’t be injured in the future. According to media accounts Buxton wants to play for the Twins and is willing to sign a fair contract. Not signing Buxton is another sign that we are a small market team.

I’ll still go to Target Field and watch games. But the beauty of Target Field is not as exciting as a winning ball club. Unfortunately the actions of this past week have pushed that possibility of winning playoff games out for at least another year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The ethics of vaccination

 

With COVID-19 vaccination rates slowing, an important story regarding COVID-19 is the public  incentives that are used to entice people to get vaccinated.  The question is this, “What are the ethics of financial incentives for vaccination?” 

It’s worth noting how effective the current vaccines are. Numbers vary, but the Pfizer vaccine has a 91 percent efficacy, Moderna is 90 percent, Johnson and Johnson is 85 percent and AstraZeneca, which has not been approved for use in the United Sates, is 60 percent effective. This is a phenomenal rate of success.  Last August, Dr. Fauci said that a efficacy rate of 50 to 60 percent for a vaccine would be acceptable. 

Now that that the supply of effective vaccines is greater than the demand and people can receive the vaccine without a wait, incentives for people have appeared. The question that undoubtedly is going through many people’s minds is “Are incentives to receive vaccination fair to those of us who have already been vaccination?” 

On a personal note I received two doses of the Moderna vaccine in April. Besides being a bit under the weather after my second vaccine, I am thrilled that I’m offered the protection of the Moderna vaccine. But when I see others receive financial benefits from being vaccinated there is a part of me that wonders, “Is this fair? Is it just? What are the ethics of vaccination?” 

The financial rewards for vaccination are enticing. In Ohio people who are vaccinated are entered into a lottery where a person can win one of five million-dollar prizes. California is giving 116.5 million in incentives to people who have been vaccinated. In Minnesota anyone vaccinated between June 5 and June 30 can be among 100,000 winners who win one of nine different prizes. 

In some states anyone vaccinated can win a prize; in other states, like Minnesota, only people who have not been vaccinated can win a prize.

 A reasonable ethical question to ask is “Is it fair to people who have already received a vaccination to offer prizes to people who have waited?” 

This situation of offering financial incentives to people who have not been vaccinated is similar to the situation that Jesus presented in a parable called, “The Laborers in the Vineyard.” (Matthew 20:1-16). The story goes like this. A landowner hired laborers to work in his vineyard for a daily wage.  Later in the morning he saw others standing idle and told them he would pay them to work in the vineyard. He found others at noon and three o’clock and five o’clock and asked them to work.  At the end of the day everyone received the same wage. The people who had worked the most were not happy. Jesus replied to the grumblers by saying, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go.” At the end of the story he shared this clincher, “Or are you envious because I am generous?” 

The current story of incentivizing of vaccination for people who could have been vaccinated before is not an exact fit to this parable. The people who worked at five in the afternoon did not know at nine in the morning about the opportunity to work. Everyone who waited to be vaccinated knew about the possibility of vaccination. And some have waited for good reasons—they had personal health reasons that prevented them from getting vaccinated or they had concerns that the vaccine had received emergency approval and had not gone through a complete vetting process. 

But the parallels between the story of the Laborer in the Vineyard and offering financial incentives for vaccination are strong. 

Is it right for those of us who got vaccinated early to be envious of those who have waited and can now receive financial reward? 

It would be beyond the purpose of this blog to look at ethical theories and then apply them to the benefits of vaccination. An excellent primer on four ethical theories is here: https://saylordotorg.github.io/text_introduction-to-the-law-of-property-estate-planning-and-insurance/s05-02-major-ethical-perspectives.html 

But asking the question of what is fair and just regarding vaccination is appropriate. I would love having a drink (for me it would be non-alcholic) and talking late into the night about how these ethical theories apply to financial incentives for vaccination. 

The main ethical principles that I apply to my own life and teach others is the second part of the Great Commandment—the command of Jesus to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. 

When I got vaccinated in early April I did it as an act of loving myself. My motivation for getting vaccinated was similar to almost everyone else who got a shot.  I didn’t want to get COVID-19. Even though the government authorized both Pfizer and Moderna on an emergency basis, I was willing to say that the risk of getting COVID outweighed the risk of potential side effects from taking the vaccine.  

My individual act of getting vaccinated was also a reflection of how I can love my neighbor.  Experts have now shared that people who are vaccinated won’t pass on COVID-19 to others. Until I was vaccinated I was a threat to unknowingly passing on this potentially deadly disease. I am benefitting you or loving you by receiving the vaccine. 

I would encourage anyone who hasn’t received a vaccine to think of getting vaccinated as a way to love your neighbors. 

I believe that if Jesus came back and was applying his command to vaccination he would encourage people to receive the vaccine. Getting vaccinated is a tangible way to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. 

But how about financial incentives? What do I believe that Jesus would say about this? 

I think he would point out to those of us who didn’t receive any financial incentive for being vaccination that we should be happy for those who are getting vaccinated.  What does it matter to us that someone else receives money to get vaccinated? Like the people who worked early in the morning in the parable and received a fair wage, those of us who have been vaccinated received what we wanted. Does it make a difference that those late in the game are now rewarded for waiting? 

I think Jesus would also point out that it’s in everyone’s interest for someone to get vaccinated. In fact every time someone is vaccinated, everyone benefits. Every person who receives vaccine leads our world closer to her immunity. The world will be a better place when each of us can go to concerts and ball games can be offered at full capacity. Schools will be able to more effective when the threat of COVID-19 is lessened.  As a pastor I am looking forward to when people will not let the threat of COVID-19 prevent them from coming to worship.  

It’s also worth knowing that each of us received a FREE vaccination. Someone else bore the cost of us receiving a shot.  Someone paid the researchers to do their work; someone paid the medical professionals to provide a space where the shots can be safely put into our arms. 

Does it bother me that people who waited to get vaccinated now can be compensated financially to get a shot? No. Why? Because I want my neighbor to do well. Letting go of any possible resentment is a way I can love my neighbor. Plus I benefit when others are vaccinated. The benefits I receive far outweigh any cost.  Even if I went to work early in the morning, Jesus would most likely tell me to get over myself and rejoice that others are benefiting too. 


Monday, April 19, 2021

Waiting for spring in an important week in the Twin Cities Metro

The weather seems to reveal the spirits of people in the Twin Cities Metro right now. Our area hasn’t been blessed with a beautiful spring so far. We’ve had a few days of warmth and sunshine, but they’ve been overshadowed by a raw northwest wind, grey skies, and cool temperatures. Today the temperature might make it to 40 when the normal high is 59. 

The raw weather is illustrating the raw spirits of people in the Twin Cities Metro. It feels like the entire region is taking a deep breath and waiting to exhale until the jury for the Derek Chauvin trials renders a verdict.  Today final arguments in the case will be shared. I’m guessing the jury will be sequestered shortly afterwards. 

The National Guard has increased their presence in the Metro.  Thousands of armed Guard members are stationed on street corners throughout the Metro.  I haven’t driven in St. Paul or Minneapolis for over a week (though I would have no problem in driving there. I’m not afraid of spending significant time in either City) but some have been quoted in the Star Tribune comparing the streets in the Twin Cities to a military occupation in foreign countries.  I don’t feel qualified to say whether the presence of the Guard at these rates is justified, but there is no doubt that Governor Walz and leaders of Minneapolis are determined to prevent riots similar to what happened this past spring when more than 1,000 buildings and businesses were damaged.   

Amidst this trial we’re all still processing the horrible killing of Dante Wright last week.  Yet again an African American man was killed by a Caucasian police officer. Seven nights of protesting have followed in Brooklyn Center with some violence exhibited by the crowds and at times an aggressive response by Law Enforcement. 

It feels like the whole country and even world is watching the Twin Cities Metro right now. The air is heavy, and the weather does not feel like spring. 

After the sermon yesterday in worship at Chain of Lakes Church, I stepped out of the pulpit and prefaced a prayer by sharing that right now all of us need both/and thinking. All of us have opinions about the Chauvin trial, and the police, and the National Guard, and Black Lives Matter, and the killing of Dante Wright. But too often our thinking is either/or.  We set up these polarities that divide us even further.  This type of thinking leads us to think that if a person is for the police they don’t care that African Americans are being killed by the police at a disproportionate rate. Or that if a person is protesting on the streets against what happened to Dante Wright, then they don’t respect the police.  We are too quickly isolating others in the way we are thinking.  The result is separation and polarization. 

I encouraged everyone at Chain of Lakes to work very hard at finding unity with others this week in our views. Work hard at finding common ground with others; don’t assume that the views of people about the world make them an enemy; dig deep at finding something about which you can agree on when it comes to policing and the topic of race. 

I offered three statements in my short talk which prefaced my prayer that I believe almost all of us can agree.  They are:

·       George Floyd’s death should have never happened, and it reveals something is wrong in the world;

·       Dante Wright’s death should have never happened, and it reveals something is wrong in the world;

·       The protests that have happened in Brooklyn Center for eight nights in a row reveal something is wrong in the world. 

Do you agree with those three statements? 

Oh I get it—you have more opinions than those three. And for many those three statements seem so obvious that they might not even be worth putting on paper.  But I’m looking for a base line of common ground. Until a large enough group of people can find unity on what we agree on, we are not going to start making the changes that our community needs. And as long as we’re trapped into an either/or mindset about the world that diminishes people who have differing views, we’re going to be living a very cold winter.

 And most of all pray. I told our congregation yesterday that if they have chose to spend time praying, this is the week to pray. Spend a lot of time this week praying for our community. I’m personally praying for God’s peace and justice and wisdom to be revealed in the Chauvin verdict, the response to the verdict, and the response to the killing of Dante Wright. And I’m praying that the level of polarization can be diminished, so that we can find common ground on these vital issue. 

I’m waiting for spring.  I have faith that it will happen.  But it feels cold right now, and our community is on edge.