(This sign got me so boiled up I had to write a letter. I looked up the church's website and found the pastor's name in order to personalize it so it wouldn't get stuck on the secretary's desk. Here, however, I have kept anonymity.)
Today as I drove past your church I noticed your sign out front: “If you think it’s hot here…”. It got me thinking about other places on this earth that are indeed hotter than southwestern Connecticut.
I thought of those who die in the slums of Mumbai and Calcutta, India; the soldiers and civilians who die in the deserts of Iraq and Darfur, Africa. I was reminded of migrant workers in their fields from sunrise to sunset, of resident families of the Oaxaca City dump in Mexico who pick through garbage for plastic bottles to recycle. I remembered that there are hundreds of elderly folks in apartments who die in hot summers. I wondered about the relative heat of Antarctica that is destroying the habitat of polar bears and penguins. I pictured dying coral reefs caused by rising sea temperatures. I called to mind the forest fires being fought by brave men and women out West and the families and wildlife displaced by those fires. I thought of my brother who lives in Tucson, AZ where there is a serious drought.
There are some things worse than the perils of hell: allowing our sisters and brothers around the world and in our own country to suffer in an earthly hell; to abuse the environment to the point that the earth we leave our grandchildren will not be the one we cherished in our childhood. Jesus said that when we minister even unto the least of these, we have ministered unto him.
Perhaps your intent was to get people thinking, but thinking about what? Their own souls or about the eternal life of all people, eternal life that begins right now with the way we live our lives in relationship to God, each other, and the whole creation.
You’re right—it’s not hot here. Perhaps it’s time we got into the kitchen of the Lord.
Peace be with you.