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Do Not Remove this Tag under Penalty of Law
By Michael Bauml

With the winter snows comes the annual pilgrimage of sledders to 'Church Hill.' ('Church Hill' is name given by the locals to the hill that adjoins our parking lot.) When the sledders use our parking lot during church services, numerous problems result because of the limited space.

Every year the sledding problem resurfaces…and every year the problem goes unresolved. Since there wasn't too much snow the past few years, there were fewer problems. However, due to the heavy early snows this past winter, the situation was quite different. When the Christmas play was approaching this past December, I was very concerned about the havoc the sledders would cause if they used our parking lot on one of our most heavily attended Sundays. I prayed that somehow it would work out. Well, it was so cold that most of the sledders decided to stay indoors. So my prayer was indeed answered!

For several years as Lay Chairperson, I have been presented with various opinions and possible solutions to this problem. Tow them, ticket them, give parking stickers to the parishioners, chain the parking lot, have someone guard the lot and turn them away [by the way there are currently no volunteers for this last solution], etc. I myself have had a variety of different emotions on the issue including anger, rage, indifference, resignation, and disbelief. This year the sledders knocked down the NO SLEDDING sign posted by the Cook County Forest Preserve Rangers. When the sign was moved to the front of the lot, the sledders drove right past it and went sledding anyway. How can someone show such blatant disregard for the laws and the rights of others? How can they be so inconsiderate? And then it hit me.

Do not remove this tag, Speed limit 35 mph, no littering, no smoking, do not walk on the grass, no spitting, occupancy limit of this elevator 6 persons maximum, and so on and so on. In many regards, we are all no different than the sledders. I am willing to bet that there is not one of us that from time to time does not disregard some law or regulation. It is clear that the Bible tells us the also obey the laws of men and yet many times we do not. If we become angry with the sledders at their disobedience and are disobedient ourselves we become hypocrites. We judge without judging ourselves. Let us remove the log from our eye and try and look at this a little differently.

I considered who sent the sledders and what is the purpose of them being there. Were they sent by Satan to keep people from getting to church? Did he send them so people would decide to say home rather than be hassled with parking problems? Did he send them to make us angry and become hypocrites? Or did God send them? Are they there so that maybe even one of them hears our worship and decides to come and see. Does God send them so that we may be living examples of his will and love them as our neighbors? Are they sent by Satan as an impediment or by God as an opportunity? I do not know the answer to this. I do believe that we must follow what Christ told us. We must love our fellow man as ourselves. The sledders are also created in the image of God. We must open our hearts and our church to them. We must, as imperfectly as we are able, shine with the love of Christ as Christian examples and treat them accordingly. This is not to say that we should stop trying to resolve the parking problem. It is saying that we should do it with wisdom and the love of Christ. If we do this and even one soul is saved as a result of our efforts, then all the inconveniences will have been more than worth it.

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