Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fight Evil Fire with Holy Fire: A Call for Prophetic Preaching

The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade

Text: Matthew 3:1-12

 
God showed Noah by the rainbow sign,
No more water, but fire next time.
-        “Mary Don’t You Weep,” spiritual


“I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I is coming.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
-        John the Baptist

It’s the Second Sunday of Advent. The Christmas decorations are up and the shopping has begun.  So we’re supposed to be feeling pretty good right about now. But here are these words from John the Baptist:  “You brood of vipers!”

Who does he think he is, talking to us like that? We’re in the midst of the holiday season, and he wants to start calling us snakes?  What’s going on here?

We had a prayer in seminary:
Lord, when we are shaken up, comfort us. 
And when we are comfortable, shake us up.
So hold on -- we are about to be shaken up.

This scene takes place on the Jordan River where people are coming to this strange prophet to be baptized. These are ordinary people like you and me – office workers and bankers, people who work for the government, people who’ve served in the military.  Both men and women, teachers, parents, builders, lawyers and healers.   And just like us, they are basically good people. These are not hardened criminals. So why is John calling them a brood of vipers?
 
John didn’t know Martin Luther, but he probably would have agreed with a Latin phrase that Luther used to describe people like us: simul justus et peccatore.  It means, at the same time saved and sinner, simultaneously justified and condemned, healed and broken. It’s the paradox of the human condition. We are at once loved and embraced by the grace of God, yet we hurt each other and damage our world, both individually and as a global human system.

So when John describes us as a brood of vipers, we know there is some truth to what he is saying.  But he gets even more provocative when describing the One who is coming: “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I is coming.  It would be a big deal for me just to tie his shoelaces. You have no idea what you’re in for. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 

Winnowing fork? Chaff? Unquenchable fire?  What can all of this mean?

In 1963 author James Baldwin wrote a book entitled The Fire Next Time which takes its title from a line in the spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep.”  Baldwin’s book consists of two personal and poignant letters written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.  His words exhorting Americans – both black and white – to confront the terrible legacy of racism were an intellectual rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement.  But reading them now, over four decades later, in light of recent events following the presidential election, his words have just as much, if not more potency.  Because in many ways it feels as if a fire has burned across the political, cultural and social landscape of this country.  But this is not a holy fire.  It is the fire of white supremacy, racial and religious hatred, androcentrism, and eco-cidal domination.

I’m thinking of a video of White Supremacist Richard Spencer speaking openly about the supposed superiority of whites and his intention to return America to white people (as if it ever actually belonged to them).  I’m thinking about the hundreds of reported incidents of racial and religious hatred displayed throughout the country over the past three weeks.  I’m thinking of a teacher friend of mine telling about a white elementary school student telling their dark-skinned classmate, “Now that Donald Trump is president, he’s going to send your parents away and you’ll have to live here all by yourself.” 

Baldwin’s words in 1963 echo loudly today:  "[Whites] are still trapped in a history that they do not understand, and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.  They have had to believe for many years and for innumerable reasons that black men are inferior to white men."

I receive these words as a white, female Christian preacher and teacher of preachers, a woman who has benefited from the privilege of my race, my education, and my religion.  From this standpoint, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that what has happened since the election is a burning away of the chaff that barely covered the brood of vipers lying beneath.  As the saying goes, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” 

It is a truth that people of color have known for years, for decades, for centuries.  But this truth comes as a punch in the gut to those of us who existed in the comfort of our privilege.  The thin veil of decency has been burned away to reveal the truth about who we are as a nation.  The ugly, dangerous, venomous truth has come to light and shown us in no uncertain terms that we are in need of serious repentance – metanoia (Matthew 3:2).

After the election I was feeling particularly despondent thinking of the ways in which so much of the tenuous progress we have so carefully built in terms of interfaith relations, race relations, environmental protections, equal rights for women and the LGBTQI community could be rolled back in the coming years.  A friend said to me, “It’s like an arson came in the night and just burned down the house.”  I agreed.  That’s what it feels like.


But as I’ve sat with this image for the past couple weeks, and contemplated these last few days the image of the holy fire, I’ve realized that there are other images at work here.  For example, controlled fires can be used to stop wildfires by carefully burning a strip of land and depriving the wildfire of fuel.  
"Watching the Old Go," Mary Anne Morgan, http://www.maryannemorganblog.com/musings/burning-away-the-chaff/

And natural fires that occur in the forest not only allow the saplings to see the light, but also release seeds that need the heat from the fire in order to grow.

"Fire in the Night," Mary Anne Morgan, http://www.maryannemorganblog.com/musings/burning-away-the-chaff/

With these two images in mind, I make the case that as preachers, indeed, as Christians, our task now is to do two things: 

1) We need the “controlled burn” of Jesus’ prophetic fire to deprive the wildfires of evil of their fuel.  
2) We need to point to the new growth of saplings and seeds that are sprouting up from the ashes.  


The controlled burn of prophetic speech means speaking boldly in our pulpits and pews against racial hatred, Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and all the “isms” that are rearing their fanged heads with impunity.  It means taking bold actions as churches to divest from fossil fuels in order to deprive the wildfires of runaway climate change of the fuels that are consuming us, even as we consume. Holy fire can fight unholy fire. 

Of course, as John warned us, this will not be a comfortable process. We will experience pain, we will come to know deep sorrow, and we will come in contact with that sinful part of our own nature and the sinful nature of others. But that discomfort will be a sign that the holy fire is burning away the chaff.

As proclaimers of the gospel, we also need to ask: Where is God creating new growth?  What are the seeds of hope that need to be nurtured, even as we are still mourning in the ashes?  We need to point to that new growth and lift up stories of resistance and renewal. 
 
Michael Quinton/Minden Pictures/National Geographic http://www.natgeocreative.com/photography/1158747
Regarding our planet, I’m thinking of the growing numbers of cities and countries that are pledging to move to 100% renewable energy in the coming years – new growth, even in the midst of ashes.  

Regarding racial hatred, I’m thinking of the growing number of safety pins seen on the clothes of those who want to signal that they are a safe person, even in the midst of raging fires.  

Regarding Islamophobia, I’m thinking of the man in Texas man holding sign in front of mosque: "You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America." 


The man’s name is Justin Normand, a 53-year-old man who owns a sign shop in Dallas. "This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us," Normand wrote in his Facebook post. "Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother's feet. This was about my religion, not theirs."

That is a controlled burn.  And it shows that new growth and new hope is springing up in places we would least expect to find it. 

This is what we need to be watching for during this Advent season – new growth after the controlled burn. So be on the lookout for that holy fire.  

It starts with only a small spark . . . in a manger full of dry hay. 

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary (KY) and an ordained Lutheran minister (ELCA), though the views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect the institutions she serves.  She is the author of the book Creation Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015).


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving: Interfaith and Secular Readings


The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade
 
As we head into Thanksgiving, some of us will be at diverse tables with red state/blue state divides and perhaps a mix of people from different religions or no religious affiliations.  It might be helpful to begin the meal with a reading that speaks to the theme of giving thanks.  Below are two lists with both religious and non-religious readings about thankfulness and gratitude – one with longer readings, one with shorter ones.  You may want to distribute copies of a longer reading to everyone and ask each person to read a sentence from it going around the table.  This can symbolize that we each have a part in fulfilling the purpose of this day.  Or you might want to print out and cut up the list of the shorter passages, spread them out on a table, and invite your guests to choose from among them to read aloud.  

And if you’re looking for advice on how to survive a red state/blue state divide at the Thanksgiving table, check out this post, http://ecopreacher.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-to-survive-thanksgiving-after.html.

LONGER READINGS ABOUT THANKFULNESS

Hebrew Scripture:
Psalm 95:1-7
1O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
5The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
6O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!


Christian Scripture:
1 Corinthians 9:6 - 15
6The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 9As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Colossians 3:9 – 17
12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Luke 17:11-19
11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”  (For my reflection on this passage, visit this post, “Pivoting on the Fulcrum of Gratitude.”)

General religious prayer
Thanksgiving Day: A Modern Psalm
By Debbie Perlman, z"l (From "Flames to Heaven: New Psalms for Healing and Praise")

How easy to praise You, Beloved One,
For abundance, for cups brim filled;
How can we not delight in Your majesty,
Your endless blessings to us.

How simple our thanks, Beloved One,
For laden tables, for gathered families,
Shoulders touching in the intimacy of the meal
You have spread before us.

Teach us to thank and bless Your name,
When cups are empty and thirst is great;
Put our hands together to replenish,
Finding blessing in tiny sips.

Beloved One, to thank and bless You,
We find hope in uncertainty
And triumph in shaky steps.
We recreate abundance for Your sake.

SHORTER READINGS ABOUT THANKFULNESS

Hebrew Scripture:

1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; God’s love endures forever.

Psalm 9:1 - 2
1I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Psalm 95:2
2Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 

Christian Scripture:
1 Timothy 4:5 - 5
4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; 5for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 - 18
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Islamic:
Quran: 31:12 “…Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul…”

Riyaadhus Saliheen  “How wonderful is the case of a Believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him -and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing. If he receives some bounty, he is grateful to Allah and this bounty brings good to him. And if some adversity befalls him, he is patient, and this affliction, too, brings good to him.”


General (non-religious)

“Let gratitude be like the sun to your flower.  Keep your face always turned toward its light.”  Leah D. Schade

“What would you have this morning if all you had was what you gave thanks for yesterday?”  Anonymous

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William Arthur Ward

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." G.K. Chesterton
 
"'Enough' is a feast. Buddhist proverb

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them." John F. Kennedy

"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." Eckhart Tolle

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily." Gerald Good

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melody Beattie
 
"The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it." Michael Josephson

"At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." Albert Schweitzer

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." Oprah Winfrey

"Silent gratitude is of no use to anyone." Gertrude Stein
 
"Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts." Henri Frederic Amiel

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." Willie Nelson
 
"It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment." Naomi Williams

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." A.A. Milne

 "We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count." Neal A. Maxwell
 
"In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(With gratitude to the following site for providing many of these secular quotes:  http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/40-inspiring-motivational-quotes-about-gratitude.html)

Do you have a favorite scripture passage or quote about thankfulness?   
Share it in the comment section below!

Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Survive Thanksgiving After the Election



The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade

Will your Thanksgiving table look like this?                                  Or this?  

http://www.prri.org/spotlight/polarizing-politics-thanksgiving/


Either scenario contains the potential for altercations so divisive they could make your family get-together feel more like the poor turkey by the end of the meal – gutted, sliced and mangled. 
 
If you’re feeling some trepidation about what you may face this coming holiday – whether you’re a Clinton supporter (hereafter known as Blue Dot), a Trump supporter (hereafter known as Red Dot), or the host of this gathering who may be in either camp – here are some suggestions for surviving Thanksgiving after the election.  [Some of the suggestions are adapted from an earlier post entitled “How to be a Christian (and a Pastor) after the Election.”]

IF YOU ARE THE HOST: 
Whether you, personally, are celebrating or mourning the election, your role as host carries with it certain responsibilities, which means you will have to be as judicious as possible in handling a Red Dot/Blue Dot holiday.  Model for your guests the kinds of conversations and tone you hope to hear by setting an example with your own words and actions.  (See below for suggestions about how to do this as a Blue Dot or Red Dot.)

Remind your guests what this holiday is about – gratitude and giving thanks.  If you as the host are a person of faith, you may want to begin the meal with a reading from your sacred scriptures that speaks to this theme of giving thanks.  If you would prefer a non-religious reading, there are many options along those lines, too. (For both religious and non-religious readings about thankfulness – click here.) You may want to distribute copies of the reading to everyone and ask each person to read a sentence from it going around the table.  This, followed by a prayer of thanks, can symbolize that we each have a part in fulfilling the purpose of this day.  And it gives you a reference point if later conversations start to curdle: “A gentle reminder – remember what we read before the meal?”

Variation on “What I’m thankful for.”  A tradition in my family is for each person to say what they are thankful for either before or during the meal.  While this would normally be a fine practice, it may actually invite political divisiveness in a post-election world.  “I’m thankful that Trump won!” is the last thing Clinton supporters want to hear as they contemplate dumping the mashed potatoes on Uncle Frank’s lap.  So as the host, you may want to consider this prompt:

"Who is the most grateful person you know?  In what way do they inspire gratitude in you?"

A question like this avoids not only politicizing, but also invites deeper reflection about what it means to be thankful.

Your other role as the host is to remember that people’s safety is top priority.  Given the rhetoric of the man who is now president-elect, there may be people at your table who are experiencing alarm and legitimate fear about their physical and emotional safety, or for their family members, friends, fellow students and co-workers.  Women, people of color, immigrants and their children, people of differing sexual orientations, people with disabilities, those who rely on health care from the Affordable Care Act, and Muslims are among those who are desperately worried about their rights, safety and health as the new administration comes into power.  And given the behavior that we’ve seen from both sides in the aftermath of the election, there is a higher potential for explosive situations.  So if you are the host of your Thanksgiving meal and you start to hear disparaging words either from adults or children, it must be clearly stated that no kind of hateful rhetoric or derogatory remarks will be tolerated in your house. 

You may even have to state some ground rules either beforehand (if you know you’ve got a Sniper coming to dinner) or if the situation starts to unravel (if someone inadvertently steps on a landmine).  Remind everyone that your home and table is to be a place of peace and civility.  And if your unruly guest is a person of faith, you may need to remind them to behave in a manner that reflects the one whom they worship.  See “Dealing with Landmines and Snipers” below for more specific instructions.



IF YOU ARE A “RED DOT”

If you are someone who is celebrating the results in this election, now is the time for restraint.  Do not gloat.  This is not like the Sunday after the World Series, or after the Superbowl.  This was not just some political game where the victors can good-naturedly rib the losers.  For half of this nation, this loss represents a crumbling of the basic foundations of decency, respect, and the means by which to preserve the common good.  For those who are concerned about the environment and climate change, the thought of the new administration rolling back every protection is terrifying.  For those whose very lives are threatened by people now empowered to strip their rights from them, the results of this election are panic-inducing.  So if you are celebrating after this election, remember – if it had gone the other way, you would be understandably disappointed and angry.  But you would have had no reason to fear for your health and safety. 

Thus refrain from insisting that people need to “come together.”  Avoid using words like “unify” and “move on.”  You cannot expect or even ask people to unify with a person whose words have authorized homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, gun violence, sexual violence, racism and white privilege.  Or to “come together” with someone who has either explicitly or implicitly supported those values by voting for the person who encourages all of that.  Insisting that we need to "come together" with the incoming administration and its supporters is like telling an abused partner she has to go back to her spouse who has a history of verbal and physical abuse. Thus "unity" is a morally and ethically untenable position. Protection and safety has to take priority.  So even if you do not consider yourself guilty of those deplorable traits or positions and merely held your nose while you voted, the fact that none of those aspects were a deal-breaker for you in the voting booth is cause for alarm for the Blue Dots in your midst.  

So if you feel like sidling up to your fellow Trump supporters during the football game and giving a knowing wink and sly high-five – resist the urge.  I would have given the same exhortation to Clinton supporters if the election had gone the other way.  Practice compassionate space-giving, especially for those “blue dots” in predominantly red families.

IF YOU ARE A “BLUE DOT”

How can I sit down to a meal with Red Dots?  What am I supposed to say and do?  How can I face those who are going to gloat over this victory and re-traumatize me with their teasing? What does it look like to be “family” in the midst of all this?” These may be the kinds of questions you are asking.  How you decide to answer these questions will depend upon the “temperature” of the room and the disposition of your host. 

If the Red Zone will be dangerously hot:
If you are facing a potentially threatening situation – one that makes you feel extremely vulnerable physically, emotionally or mentally – you can respectfully decline the invitation to attend, or come at a later time after the "danger people" have left or are close to leaving.  This election has been especially painful for people who have suffered sexual trauma and physical or emotional abuse. If you suspect that the Red Dots at the Thanksgiving table are gunning for you, or would be hard-heartedly insensitive, or would not come to your defense if you were set upon, explain to your host that you have other plans this year.  I realize this is not as easy as it sounds.  If you and your spouse/partner are Blue Dots, and you’re going to his/her Red Dot family for Thanksgiving, it may be difficult for you to say no.  Or you may feel guilty about depriving your children of the family get-together.  Or you may feel guilted by other family members who accuse you of depriving them of seeing your kids.  Or accuse you of “breaking up the family,” or being “too sensitive.”  You can explain that it’s just for this year.  Or offer to get together at another time, perhaps in a neutral location. But if you do decide to give Thanksgiving a try with a predominantly Red Dot family, or if you feel you have no other choice than to enter the Red Zone, you may face one of the following three situations.

If the Red Zone is tolerable:
The hope is that most people will be respectful, practice decorum, and refrain from giving someone a reason to want to lob a spoonful of cranberry sauce across the table.  Best case scenario is that everyone is well-behaved, gives appropriate space, engages in neutral topics of conversation, and everyone leaves breathing sighs of relief that it wasn’t so bad after all.  But if there is a Red Dot or Blue Dot Sniper at the table . . .

Dealing with Snipers and Landmines:
Chances are that there will be a clueless person whose brain-filter simply gets clogged with mashed potatoes and starts going off like a tripped landmine about their thoughts regarding the election, the state of the country, or “those people.”  Or the person may be an intentional Sniper (which can be a Red Dot or Blue Dot) who takes great delight in taking aim with their words or throwing a grenade onto the table and watching people bleed.  If you witness this (or hear about it from someone who shares with you what happened), follow the procedure recommended by a certain ancient sage from Nazareth as recorded in Matthew 18:15-17.  
First, try talking to the person in private, reminding them of the ground rules and the reason for the day (giving thanks), and ask them to refrain from that kind of behavior.  If they get defensive or refuse to curb their enthusiasm for mischief, ask a second person to join you in speaking with the individual and reiterating the ground rules.  If the person still does not comport themselves appropriately and you’re the host, thank them for coming and hand them their coat and a slice of pumpkin pie for the road.

If someone says something to you personally that makes you wince, or if a conversation is going on that is making you feel very uncomfortable, try saying the following:  “What you said really made me feel (hurt/angry/disgusted/afraid). Was that your intention?”  Or “This conversation is making me feel very (hurt/angry/disgusted/afraid).  Can we change the subject?”

Most well-meaning people, when hearing this, will respond either with chagrin and be quiet, or feel embarrassed and apologize.  But if you have said this and the person either continues, or tells you you’re being too sensitive, or says they were “just joking,” or is quiet for a while but then picks up the hammer and starts bashing later on, they have indicated very clearly that they do not care about you or your feelings any more than they do for the dregs scraped into the trash after the meal.  If that is the case, you can excuse yourself, thank your host for the lovely meal and take your leave.  In other words – have a plan for your own self-protection.      

Finally, if the Red Zone is tolerable for you, but may be a landmine for someone else, listen up:

Your presence at the table may be the saving grace that a Blue Dot needs.  So show up.  The day may be uncomfortable, awkward or annoying for you.  But for someone else it may be sheer torture.  So be an ally.  Run interference.  Be a person of refuge.  Offer to take a Blue Dot out for a walk if they’re showing signs of distress.  Or take a Red Dot for a walk if they’re getting out of hand.  See this as an opportunity to practice all your skills of diplomacy and compassion.  

By practicing strategies of peace and compassion, you may end up being the very reason someone gives thanks on Thanksgiving.

[Do you have ideas or suggestions for getting through this Red Dot/Blue Dot holiday?  Post a comment below!]

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary (KY) and an ordained Lutheran minister (ELCA), though the views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect the institutions she serves.  She is the author of the book Creation Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015).