Pastor’s Page – July 2024

Dear Siblings in Christ,

As we move into the more “official” election season, the divisions in the world around us and between one another will sometimes feel heightened. We will be reminded in the news, in conversations, with lawn signs, and especially on social media. In these next few months, our differences with one another will be constantly pointed out: different viewpoints, different ideologies, different values, different beliefs. It can become overwhelming.

In the midst of this division, it is important to remember that all of humanity is far more alike to one another than we are different. We have the same common needs of food, water, and shelter. We desire to love and be loved. We seek belonging within relationships, with family, and in community, and we desire to find purpose in our lives. We have natural creativity and curiosity. We store memories from the past, and these memories become part of the stories of who we are and where we’ve come from. Even on the most basic level of genetics, the DNA variation from one human to another is approximately 0.1%. That means that any two humans anywhere on the planet are 99.9% alike.

Even though we don’t always agree with one another, we can still live in community with one another. Especially as members and friends of St. Paul’s, we share at least one very important thing in common: our faith in God. Together, we trust that there is something bigger than just the human life cycle. We believe in Jesus Christ who came to save us, we trust in the promise of the resurrection to eternal life, and we proclaim forgiveness of sins for one another and for all the people of God. We may have our differences, but as the Apostle Paul writes, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

So, how do our relationships and communities survive amidst division? It’s so tempting to throw our hands up in the air, call it quits, and walk away from anyone who disagrees with us. But that doesn’t actually solve any problems. We are all citizens of this country, and we are all trying to navigate daily life and difficult situations as best we can. There will always be people that we disagree with.

So, instead of alienating yourself from others, here are a few suggestions:

1. Pray and worship: Remember the bigger picture. Take note of our common humanity. Pray for God to strengthen you for the season ahead. Gather together with the Body of Christ. Join us in worship at St. Paul’s. Remember the greatness of God’s love and mercy for all people.

2. Respond, don’t react: Especially with social media, we have become far too quick to react without thinking. We need to take a moment to pause, close our eyes, and breathe in and out. Take note of your emotions – are they related to the situation, or are you tired from a long day? Irritable due to stress at work? Frustrated because you’re in a hurry? Do your best to set these unrelated emotions aside. Remember the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is as close to us as our own breath. Trust in the Spirit to guide us, and approach the situation from a calmer perspective.

3. Limit exposure to news and social media: Due to the algorithms on social media, you’re incredibly likely to see only opinions that you agree with, combined with inflammatory statements about opposing viewpoints. News networks often use similar tactics. The goal is to instill fear, anger, and outrage in media consumers, because this is what makes money. Instead, spend time off-screen with real people. The viewpoints you see and experience in real relationships are far more valuable than anything social media or a news network can tell you.

4. Take a break: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we can’t solve all the world’s problems in a single conversation, Zoom session, or meeting. We are constantly being bombarded by information and opinions, and sometimes we forget to take time to rest. When you are mentally or emotionally exhausted, you are long overdue for a break. Read a book. Exercise. Watch a movie. Volunteer. Trust in God to provide for you, so that you have the energy and strength to return to all the noise of the world.

These are just a few ideas for how to remain centered and calm during an emotional and volatile time in our nation. But remember, despite all our differences, we have a whole lot in common with our neighbors in the church pew, down the street, and across the world. Rather than walk away from one another, focus on our shared humanity. God has created us as beloved children, loves us unconditionally, and teaches us to do the same.


Rev. Jessica Hahn