How is your thermostat?

Before I drove my mother-in-law back to Connecticut on December 27, I shut the boilers down at our church. The National Weather Service was forecasting mild temperatures for these early days of winter. So, I figured to save the church a few pennies with this shutdown.

Of course, well-intentioned plans in a church might elicit push back.

I will admit the Sanctuary was cool on Sunday morning. But, it wasn’t in my humble opinion bone chilling cold, the temperature outside was 44. My hope was that our congregation could adapt.

As soon as the first service was over, a very nice member of our congregation complained about her cold discomfort in the Sanctuary.

Next, at the 9:30 service, as soon as a couple walked in they made a comment about the Sanctuary being cold.

And to top it off, the head usher at the 11 o’clock service noted on the attendance card that the Sanctuary was cold.

On Christmas Eve, I did not fire up the boiler for the Sanctuary at all. It was too mild outside, plus we had lots of 98.6 bodies in the Sanctuary. That wasn’t the case on the Sunday after Christmas. Lots of our congregation were MIA (missing in action).

So, if it took you several hours to warm up on Sunday afternoon once you departed our church, I apologize. Don’t blame God, you can blame that knucklehead, the Director of Operations, me.

Our building has at least five different types of thermostats. My favorite ones are in some of the classrooms in the children’s wing. The best way to raise and lower the temperature for these thermostats is by using a pencil eraser.

No matter where I have worked in my career, thermostats can be a source of frustration at times. A room can be too hot or too cold. When you factor in our own human thermostats finding comfortable middle ground can be a nightmare for an HVAC technician.

I would imagine that thermostats are not a worry for God and Jesus up in the blue yonder.  But, I wonder what they think about how we manage our personal thermostats on a daily basis down here on earth?

Today, I don’t think it takes too much for our incivility to raise our thermostats to dangerous levels. Often, it appears that a very tiny disagreement can rapidly agitate a person’s thermostat. Sadly, that agitation might make a person react in an unreasonable and sometimes harmful manner. 

 Every year, we seem to have more and more encounters where civility is missing. In those situations, sometimes, a person makes a decision that will potentially not only ruin his/her life, but the lives of others too.

I wonder where the Golden Rule was in that person’s thermostat settings? Maybe God and Jesus are wondering the same as they look down upon us—“Have our friends on earth completely forgotten the Golden Rule?

At times, myself included, I think we have forgotten the basic premise for Matthew 7:12: “you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you.”

On Sunday morning, December 29, I didn’t apply that treatment to those in our congregation who were shivering. I was attempting to be a good steward of resources, but I failed.

I’m sure the seasonal changes in temperature will continue to challenge thermostat controls in our church building. Certainly, those who were a bit chilly on Sunday morning hope that I learned a lesson.

But, as I move into the early days of 2020, keeping my own personal thermostat grounded to the basics of the Golden Rule will be an important test too. 

I can’t let the frenzied pace of daily living relinquish the merits of the Golden Rule. In those moments when the pace of life is pushing my thermostat in the wrong direction, I must be willing to hit that pause button.

Pausing to recalibrate my real thermostat—my heart, can’t be overlooked when I need to apply the Golden Rule.

Those Golden Rule moments for my thermostat are out ahead me in 2020. 

I pray I’m ready, how about you?

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