In recent months the Landis Communities and Landis Homes Boards have met several times to carefully plan for the future of Landis Homes. We begin each of these meetings with a meditation and prayer, and below is a meditation shared by Landis Communities Board Treasurer R. Clair Sauder at the start of one of these meetings…
In the retail world there is an often used saying – perception is everything. A person’s perception is determined by many events and experiences and while we could not control someone’s prior experiences we wanted to be sure that our interaction with each person who came into our store created a positive impression and perception that of course led to them making a purchase.
Once your perception of a person, idea, product or event is formed, it is difficult to change – witness the TV ad that Buick has been running repetitively for many months. Buick has been known by my generation as a car driven by no one younger than 65. Large and stodgy in design with a soft cushy ride. In an effort to gain market share, a few years ago they decided to redesign the car to be smaller, sportier and complete with all the latest engineering advances. In an effort to change this perception they produced this ad that includes a number of scenes where people do not recognize a Buick to be a Buick. In the last scene, a young man is proudly showing his new Buick to his elderly grandmother who declares that this is not a Buick. When a neighbor yells across the yard “that is not a Buick”, she responds by saying “that’s what I told him”! As the ad fads away, she is sitting in the front passenger seat looking around in disbelief and says “Oh my”.
It seems to me that personal perceptions often blind us from the reality of God’s message to us humans. We have become people with a preconceived notion of what a religious belief or experience should be and as a result we have often represented God to be a God of judgement and exclusion rather than a God of love and inclusion. We have created walls that divide when we should be breaking down walls that separate us from each other as Christians and from persons of other or no faith.
As I think about this, I find myself going back to a couple of verses found in Deuteronomy and again in Matt 22: 36 – 39 that have been highlighted in my bible for many years. To set the scene, the Sadducees and Pharisees are testing Jesus by asking him some questions. Not unlike our current political and religious world where leaders/candidates are pried with “gotcha questions”.
Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This profound response by Jesus formed the basis of a personal mission statement that I wrote for myself a few years ago as I thought seriously about what was important for me in my retirement years. That statement, a rather simple one, is – “To be a person of increasing faith, love, understanding and compassion. To do what is right in the sight of God.”
Well, what does that have to do with us as people of faith serving on the board of Landis Communities? Today as we face complex and complicated issues focused around new buildings, a large capital fund raising campaign and the incurring of debt, can we each put aside our specific perceptions and bring our selves back to Landis Communities’ guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community. If we do this, hopefully we will create positive perceptions about the mission and purpose of Landis Communities.
This morning I pray that we will be given wisdom and understanding to make wise decisions that build on these guiding values of Joy, Compassion, Integrity, Stewardship and Community.