The Pastor's Peace - April, 2017
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As I write this for the April newsletter, March Madness is in full swing with college basketball fans being glued to couches and predictions about who will win changing constantly as brackets are ruined day after day. It is an interesting thing to watch— how people fill out their selections of who will win the games as 68 teams for men and 64 for women compete to be the champion. Apparently there are a great number of ways one can fill out a bracket, a selection of who wins which games, 9.2 quintillion possibilities to be exact; that is a one with 18 zeros after it. In fact in all the years of filling out basketball brackets there has never been a verified perfect bracket. The closest officially recorded was recently when someone had predicted correctly the first 39 out of 63 games. With so many millions of people each year filling out these brackets, what a wonder it is that no one has done so perfectly or really even come close.

I find this interesting because basketball is not the only thing we try to predict in the world and in our own lives. How often do we sit and worry about the future, about things that might come true and might not? How often do we think we have the future pretty much figured out? I would say that if we can’t predict what 64 teams are going to do over a couple of weeks, perhaps we are not too good at predicting what our lives and futures might be. When I think of meeting my wife, for instance, there are dozens of little things that could have gone differently that would have led us to not getting married. Our lives are really quite unpredictable in so many ways. This might seem stressful, or it might also seem inspiring, in that there are so many possibilities before us, and that nothing is set in stone. If we think that we are stuck in some unhappy place, we can take comfort in knowing that the future is always fluid and always open to things we can’t even imagine.

Christ was great at busting people’s brackets about life. People had fallen into a view of their God, their place in life, what would be the solution to their troubles, and Jesus showed them something new and unexpected in all those cases. They had armies, violence, and power as the winning team, and instead Jesus led to victory with peace, love, and compassion.

Who could have seen that win? The world around us and our lives are uncertain, and that is scary; it is also powerful and liberating. As Paul said, we do not hope for what is seen, but we hope for what is unseen. As we celebrate the miracle of Easter this year, that great and completely unexpected win of God, keep in mind that God is always breaking forth, moving us to new and exciting things. Have hope for the future, have hope for what has not been seen or even expected, have hope for God’s love in your life.

Happy Easter and March Madness,

Pastor Brian