Two personal info notes to begin today:

1) I have a Facebook account that I use exclusively for family connections. It’s how I see pics of my grandbuddy (and other family members, too). Several of you have sent friend requests. I am happy to be your real-life friend; but I delete your FB friend requests. I learned early in this era that FB is a mixed-bag thing. I prefer mostly to stay out of it. 2) I will be journeying to Ohio after worship Sunday to visit family and floral friends!! I suspect I will have to deal with a weed or two as well. Unless a blazing bit of inspiration hits me during my time at home, I won’t be writing Z-Notes for a couple of weeks. I know, I know—you’re crestfallen. I assure you, you will survive.

We have spent the summer probing the thoughts of Paul as he addressed the situation in life for the nascent Roman Christian church. I have been making connections between their daily walk…and ours. Yes, I’ve stretched a bit on occasion. The fancy way we describe that is to say that the preacher took a hermeneutical (flying) leap from Bible-times to the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now. Truth is, people are people, the Church is the Church, good is good, and evil is evil, no matter when and where we live. That’s why we keep reading and talking about the Bible. The details of life change; but the eternal principles remain the same.

I began writing this piece on Monday as the Republican National Convention was beginning. I will refine it as the week goes on. I am predicting that a certain measure of unkindness will come out of the week, just as was true when the Democrats met last week. I don’t own a TV and I listen mostly to NPR, so the nasty ads you’ve been seeing have not invaded my personal space. I’m a political scientist by training who has been engaged in electoral politics in a previous life. I am enjoying MY relative quiet this year as campaigning has arched over me. I am bracing myself for what I suspect will reach me after this week. One of the reasons I left electoral politics long ago was the intentional and blatant untruths and unkindness that infests campaigning. Without COVID-19, I imagine this year would have been unbearable.

What does this have to do with Paul and Romans? Romans 12 summarizes how a disciple of Jesus can live a kind and gentle life. It occurred to me as I was thinking about this passage that I need to name some of the rough edges and harsher practices in my own behavior. Romans 12 really convinced ME that I needed to preach to myself and practice the kindness he outlines…even if the rest of the world goes to you-know-where in a handbasket. I intend to preach that message to myself this Sunday as the campaign season really gears up. I invite you to listen and discern how YOU are doing on the try a little kindness front. Good luck!!

Blessings,

The Rev. Conley A. Zomermaand, PhD
pastorz@thirdpresbyterian.org
(618) 606-1053—after office hours; emergencies