The news sources that I click on or listen to are saying that the American public today is entirely split in its social and political opinion, that we have never been more divided, and that the differences are so profound that we may forever be two Americas. I think, hope, and pray that this isn’t accurate, and that it is more the kind of dramatic journalism that seeks consumer loyalty with dire assessments and predictions. There would seem truly to be a tremendous difference of many opinions and beliefs across the country, a wide continuum of perspectives, rather than two neatly definable and opposing camps. I think it has always been this way, and that it’s not a bad thing. I’m intrigued by a statement I heard this week from a Republican senator about his worry that our country no longer has a shared central narrative about who we are as a nation. That makes me wonder what kind of conservations we all can be part of on the most local levels. Perhaps we might extricate ourselves from the trees, as it were, and take a forest level view – a horizon line view, a big ideas view. Perhaps if we talked about our founding ideals, like the meaning of equality, liberty, justice, citizenship, we might find a platform from which to explore our very different daily interpretations and experiences of our shared commitments. Just a thought – but I think it has influenced the lens through which I’m viewing our biblical texts for today. Both Paul in Athens and Christ with his disciples were trying to help those around them to hear what they were saying, to understand them. Paul was trying to convince people with different philosophical and religious opinions about the truth of God as the only god and Christ as the one who effected God’s salvation. Jesus was trying to help his disciples understand how they were to carry on their saving work after he was gone, and to believe that it was possible. Paul and Jesus spoke most intentionally in their exhortations, adopting the techniques and language necessary so that the other persons could hear them.