The Pastor's Peace - June, 2014
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I learned some good news: a church I thought was closing is actually open. Don’t worry; I’m not talking about ours. Our church is very much alive—at least I hope it is. No, I was talking about a little UCC church in Key West that I went to several times when I was a child. My father was a guest minister there during some of the summers of my childhood and I remember staying in the adjoining “conch” house with my parents for vacations. Now this was back in the early ‘80s and Key West has changed a bit since then. When I was there last summer, it appeared that the church was no longer open, and I mourned a bit of my childhood that seemed to be yet another casualty of progress and time.

However, just as in an Easter-like miracle (it is “still” Easter), it seems as if the church is open again with regular Sunday services. Apparently they were merely in the midst of getting a new pastor and were in a state of transition during my last visit. Well, this is great news for me, but what does this have to do with anything here at Beaver UCC, other than the fact that your pastor has a dual case of nostalgia and writer’s block. The writer’s block is not good, but I think nostalgia is not so bad; it is natural for us to look back with fondness at our younger and simpler days. When I visited Key West as a child, I did not worry how I was going to pay for it, or where to eat, or if my wife was having a good time, or when my flight was, or if I forgot my room key. Life was simpler. I mostly just followed my parents’ lead and was entranced by all of the curious and fascinating things around me. Being a child is not so bad, I think. We spend so much time hurrying to grow up, and then when we
get older, we look back with fondness on younger years— how funny and human.

As I think about this, I remember Matthew, chapter 18. In the beginning of the chapter we see Jesus telling us that we must become like children if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is in response to the question of “who is the greatest among us” from the disciples. Jesus quickly demonstrates that their concern with ego and importance separates them from God rather than bringing them closer. We must rather humble ourselves like a child. There is a great deal of truth to that. Not only should we have personal humility, but perhaps we should also focus less on all of the seemingly “important” things that come with adulthood.

Many of the things that constantly concern us are really just distractions that keep us from seeing God’s kingdom around us. As I think about my own distractions, I think about the start of each Sunday’s service. When our service begins, I escort our little candle lighters to the altar. They have excitement and fascination in their eyes, while I am worrying about the service and what I will say. I think perhaps my focus is misplaced. If I truly want to follow Christ’s advice, then next Sunday I should try to be more like them. I will try to walk with the same eyes I had when I was a child, when I saw Hemingway’s six-toed cats, parrots, sunsets, and all the other beautiful things of Key West in the ‘80s. What fascinated you when you were a child? Try to put away the distractions of importance, and view the world as a child yet again. You never know what you might see.

Peace and Blessings,

Pastor Brian