Since there is no congregational conversation this month (but mark your calendars for the next one on January
12!), I will be sharing some thoughts over the next few weeks that might provide useful framing for our future
This week I’d like to offer a distinction between a problem that must be solved and a polarity that must be managed. The former requires a clear choice: yes or no, either/or. For example, a high school graduate can only select one college and must decline admission offers from all others. By contrast, polarities require us to hold two priorities that seem to be at odds with one another. This is what happens when we breathe; we need both to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. The lungs cannot choose one process. Survival itself depends on this give and take.
In church life, we are sometimes tempted to make complex decisions via an up or down vote. That seems easiest in the short run. The choice has been made, and we can simply live into it. Often, though, we would be better served by considering the issue up for discussion a polarity: how can we live in the tension between different positions? What would allow the people involved both to stand in their integrity and to demonstrate care for those who see things another way? In difficult matters, this approach is harder in the short term but more fruitful over the long haul.