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Jean Larson

Jean Larson

A friend of mine is a brand new member of Montana’s House of Representatives. She is drinking from the fire hose and raring to go. I am grateful that she is doing it, alongside every other member of the House and the Senate who is there to make Montana a good and just place to live. I’m grateful that they’re all willing to work crazy hours and relocate to Helena in the middle of winter to get the peoples’ work done.

I’m so grateful, in fact, that I’m going to preach to our legislators a bit here. Oh joy!

I know that you come from all sorts of religious traditions and none. Some of you have given up on the faith of your birth. Still, this is for y’all, because my theological tidbit might be helpful: Christian faith of the mainstream Protestant variety sees the work you do in Helena as holy work. It is holy not because it praises God but because it serves the neighbor.

As my brother Martin Luther urged his people to use “your tools, your needle, your beer barrel” in obedience to the universal law of love, so also I urge you to use the tools of the legislative trade to serve your Montana neighbors well — with excellence and care about their well-being. Luther’s idea was that God called the shoemaker to make the very best pair of shoes possible, not for the sake of the brand, but for the sake of the neighbor’s happy, healthy feet. Likewise, his wife Katie brewed the best beer in the county for the sake of the neighbors’ well-being and joy. (Not kidding. Katie was a great brewer, and Martin’s doctrine of vocation saw it as holy work to serve their community.)

So how are you going to use your legislative tools this session? Which ones are you especially good with? And for whose benefit will you tinker?

I realize that this high-minded holy talk might not cut it when debate gets hot. But I plead with you, not as a preacher but as a fellow Montanan, to stay focused on why we elected you. I’m not the only one who hopes that there is plenty of collaborative know-how and supra-partisan commitment to our people and our land in your toolboxes. To be sure, you didn’t sign up for holy work, but here you go: take it in as fuel and vision for your marathon of public service.

And let the sausage-makers lead the way! Chief Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion brought legislators from both parties to his house last Sunday to make sausage, (“Making Actual Sausage,” Missoulian 1/7/19). First-termer Barbara Bessette (D-Great Falls) said, “You realize we all just want to do the best we can for the people of Montana. It’s good to see it’s not always about party politics. You’ve got to work together to get stuff done.”

Amen, sister! Blessings of strength and peace to all our public servants in Helena this session.

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The Rev. Jean Larson is a mostly retired Lutheran pastor who coaches clergy and volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Connect with her at jeanklarson@gmail.com.

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