May Pastor’s letter
May is the month of Mothers’ Day, Memorial Day, and Fishing Opener, not necessarily listed in order of importance to all people. There’s the old Minnesota joke about the man whose wife informed him that she would leave him if he left her home alone for another fishing opener. “Sure gonna miss you,” he replied.
Well, that’s good. We have our activities in life that give us pleasure and something to look forward to. Now, what about that future? The threat of World War and Climate Change are on our doorstep. “Even now, the axe is lying at the root of the trees…” (Matthew 3:10, Luke 3:9)
So, why do I even have a concept of “future?” Is it just so I can plan the most pleasant outcome for myself?
Recently, I watched Ken Burn’s PBS documentary, Benjamin Franklin. I was reminded of how significant the American revolution was in world history. For the first time, at least in the Western World, it created a form of government that emphasized human rights. Sadly, though, Burns reminded us of the astonishing omissions of that revolution -the rights of slaves and indigenous people.
Burns also made sure his viewers were aware of Franklin’s interest in and respect for the existing governments of Native American people, especially the Iroquois Confederacy, which he used as a model for the confederation of the United States. The Iroquois Confederacy, more appropriately named the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, took into consideration not only the human rights of those present in society, but also of those future -the next 7 generations.
The “7 generations” concept is helping motivate climate change action by helping us balance our actions in the present with the needs of future generations. And yet, there is one important question about the 7 generations philosophy – how do we motivate ourselves to do it? Our incredible ability to compromise even our best intentions is notorious. The continuation of slavery in the United States after the revolution and the war in Ukraine are two examples.
What is needed is a shared belief system to complement the 7 generation respect for the future. The shared belief system of Christians is that God is working with us on forging a just and equitable future. This belief system is reflected in the ELCA slogan, “God’s work, our hands.” We can, and should, apply the 7 generation concept to our Christian hope. It’s not just about my future or my children’s or grandchildren’s future. It’s about the future of the next 7 generations.
Hope isn’t so much about personal salvation as it is about the future of the world. In a strange twist, once we commit ourselves to 7 generations, our anxiety about personal salvation disappears. We have work to do! A headline in the paper regarding the upcoming funeral service for Madeline Albright says it all: “She was a force for good.” Let us all be forces for good that will last for at least the next 7 generations.
Peace… Pastor Dale