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Religious Reflections

Focus on harmony, not volcanic fury

Pastor Katie Haney

Mt. St. Helen's is at it again, rumbling with pent-up volcanic gasses and magma. Scientists tell us that her plumbing system is frozen up from 18 years of dormancy, which makes it hard to predict how violent an eruption might be. They do know there are a lot of gasses building up inside her because the whiff of "eau de rotten egg" is in the air.

Sound like anyone you know? We all tend to get a little heated up inside from time to time, often because of perceived slights by our co-workers or family members. When we don't get treated as well as we think we should or we meet with opposition to our plans and goals, we tend to internalize that frustration until it finally erupts, making a mess of things. Our need to vent disturbs the peace of our home or our workplace.

Last Sunday, most Christians around the globe celebrated World Communion Sunday as a reminder of our oneness in Christ. In the Presbyterian Church, this Sunday is the occasion for a special offering designated for peacemaking, so peace has been on our minds for the past couple weeks. As Christians, we have a strong mandate to be peacemakers in our homes, workplaces and communities. That's difficult to do when we're getting all steamed up about being unappreciated or stymied in our progress.

Jesus spent much of his ministry urging his followers to imitate his example of humility and servant leadership. In his teaching about being a proper dinner guest (Luke 14:7-11), he says, all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

In true humility, the disciple doesn't expect people to bow to his wishes or give her praise for doing her job. The needs of others become a priority and the need for us to be right or in control or catered to fades away. When that happens, maybe we won't have to vent our steam all over innocent bystanders.

Maybe then we can focus on helping other people live in wholeness and harmony. Maybe then we can be true peacemakers instead of volatile volcanoes.

- Pastor Katie Haney of the Sunnyside Presbyterian Church.

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