The Pastor’s Peace™
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Brian for your reflection and consideration, published monthly during the year, available in our printed Beaver Church Chatter newsletter and on our web site.
Well, here it is, we are starting a new decade, the 20s. It is hard for me to believe that so much time has gone by in my life. I was talking recently with someone about music I listened to in high school. I realized that when I was a senior in high school, in 1994, there were the same number of years between 1969 and my senior year as there are now between my senior year and 2019. So basically kids who are currently seniors in high school who are listening to music that was released when I was a senior are the same as me listening to 60s music when I was in high school. My music tastes that were once modern are now classic, but that’s the way it goes. For those older than I, the view of time and changes are obviously even more abundant, like my grandfather who remembers the other 20s, that would be the 1920s.
If there is one thing we can count on it is that time marches on and that change is inevitable. Just like the old saying states, “the only thing that is constant is change.” That quote is from the philosopher Heraclitus, by the way, a Greek philosopher from around 500 BC, and not even he could have imagined all of the changes between then and now. That being said I disagree with that statement to a point. Even though there is always change there are some constants as well. There are things that are the same now as when I was in high school, and they were there when my grandfather was in high school, and they were even there when Heraclitus was in high school, although they probably didn’t call it high school back then. The things I am talking about are love and compassion, family, forgiveness, struggle, and even hatred. All of these aspects that make us human are things that people have been dealing with in every century. In addition to those, there has also always been God in our life to help us with these things.
Christ was there for me in 1994 just like Christ is here for me today. Even though Jesus was born after our philosopher Heraclitus, God was still with him as well, trying to call him to a life of compassion and love. This is true not only for the past but for the future as well. The last 25 years of my life have brought forth events and changes that I could have never fathomed, and I’m sure the next 25 will bring more such changes should I be lucky enough to live that long.
If I am that lucky I know that Christ will be with me as well, and even if I’m not that lucky, Christ will still be with me. You see, who knows what the 20s will bring, but whatever it brings, know that you are not alone, that Christ is with you always, and that through Christ we shall be joined together for all time.
Peace, Blessings, and Happy New Year,
Many of you know that my wife has been experiencing a chronic pain condition since June of this past year. We had been to several doctors here in the Dayton area but had not found any answers. As a final effort we went to the Cleveland Clinic and met with several doctors there and had many tests completed. The doctors and care at the Cleveland Clinic were phenomenal and I understand why it is considered one of the top 10 hospitals in the world. Despite all of the good care, however, they were unable to provide a definitive diagnosis. They did rule many things out, but all they could provide beyond that was help in managing the pain. It was good news that she didn’t have a horrible disease, but it would have been nice to have a better idea of what was going on. Apparently undiagnosed pain conditions are not as uncommon as one would think. There are limits to what medicine can test for and what it can cure.
I think that as our modern society has continued to advance we have placed a great deal of trust in things such as medicine and technology. Some of that trust is well placed, as there have been amazing advances in these areas and caring people working to improve the lives of all of us. As advanced as we have become, however, such things cannot fix everything nor can they answer every question we might have. In the time of Jesus, I believe it was easier to place one’s trust in God, as the world especially for the poorer classes offered little in terms of care or solutions. When Jesus appeared with healing and salvation, I’m sure many immediately followed his cause.
In our current day some of these things seem less miraculous or perhaps we even wonder if they are necessary. If we manage to find ourselves in places of comfort and plenty, what does God have to offer us? This is true today and was true in Christ’s time as well. Part of faith is not only believing in Christ, but also remembering why we believe in Christ. We might have achieved much as a people, but in some senses we are as needy as those in the first century.
No matter our advances we will never have control over all of creation, and we will always need guidance to live good and moral lives where we respect and care for all those in God’s creation. In short, we will always need God. I was reminded of that recently and I am grateful that God is indeed in my life. No matter what happens I will always be in God’s hands, and what good news that is indeed.
Peace and Blessings,
Well, for those paying attention on February 2nd, good old Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog around, did not see his shadow and therefore predicted an early end to winter. I would like to think that Phil is correct in this assessment, but studies have shown that the groundhog’s predictions are not all that reliable. Certainly my time in Ohio has taught me that predicting spring is not an easy endeavor. Of course this is true for many things in life. It would be nice if we could predict when and what would happen in our lives, but such predictions are often as consistent as Ohio weather. What do we do when we have no idea what the future holds? What do we do when we are in a place of challenge and difficulty and wonder when will relief finally come?
Although I am looking forward to spring, the truth is that my life is just fine without it. In fact on the bright side there is much less yard work for me to do. Other situations, however, are not so easy to endure, and seemingly have no bright side. If we find ourselves diagnosed with a serious illness, or find ourselves jobless, or homeless, then we wait with nervousness, pain, and despair for change to come and provide relief. To make matters worse, there is no telling when that change we are looking for will occur, when our spring will come. In cases like this, which most if not all of us will find ourselves in at some point in life, it is important to hold onto the one thing that can help us in these times, and that is hope.
In the well-known passage of 1st Corinthians 13:13 we see that Paul holds up faith, hope, and love as the keys to life. We often talk of faith and of course love, but hope is so important as well. It is hope that nourishes us in times of famine. It is hope that compels us to not give up. It is hope that encourages us to fight for a better day. Even when our future is uncertain, as Paul points out in Romans, we hope for what is not yet seen. If you find yourself in a period of winter in your life, rely on hope and remember that nothing is permanent except our relationship with God. If you find that you know someone going through a difficult time, use the most important key of life, love, and be that change in their life that they need.
Together with hope and love, I have faith that there is a better future for all of us. I can’t set my watch and know when it will happen, and I can’t predict it like Phil, but I wait for it, as Paul says, with patience and composure. In this season of waiting, this season of Lent, hold onto hope always, for a brighter day is on the horizon.
Peace and Blessings,
Well folks, I have to say that I was trained on a number of things in seminary, but responding to a global pandemic wasn’t one of them. This, of course, isn’t the first pandemic Beaver church has been through. Being that we are 211 years old, we have been through several cholera and flu outbreaks, the worst being the flu pandemic of 1918, known as the Spanish flu, that sadly took the lives of 600,000 in the United States, with 600 perishing in Dayton alone. Looking at our history records there is an entry dated December 1918 stating that the fourth quarter communion scheduled for October was delayed until December because of the “prevalence of influenza.” So this is not the first time we have had to change our worship due to disease, and like our church brothers and sisters 102 years ago, we will continue to write our histories for the future generations of this church.
Because it has been over 100 years since this country has had to deal with anything similar to the scale and speed of the current Coronavirus, it is understandable that our leaders, including Gov. DeWine, are doing all they can to reduce the spread of this disease. This is why Beaver church has moved to online services for the time being and why we are encouraging all of our members to practice physically distancing themselves from others, and as per state guidelines encouraging those over 65 to stay at home except for absolute necessities and emergencies. I have confidence that together we can, through these practices, limit the casualties from this disease such that we don’t have another outbreak as deadly as the 1918 flu or worse. All of us have to do our part, caring for each other, as God has cared for us.
Despite the gravity of the situation we cannot lose hope, and we need to banish our fears. We should take comfort that our current understanding of disease and medicine is vastly superior to our knowledge a century ago. Even in those bleak times so long ago, life as we know it continued and flourished. In 1918 Beaver church recorded only one death, but in addition celebrated the baptisms of four new babies, including the birth and baptism of Catherine Tapy, the daughter of then Beaver church pastor Rev. J.F. Tapy and his wife Bertha.
In the midst of struggle and difficulty there is still always beauty and joy if we look for it, for God never abandons us. Even in the death of our savior Jesus Christ, nearly 2000 years ago, the sadness and death of the cross was transformed into the joy and wonder of the resurrection. We might indeed find ourselves in difficult times, and hopefully things will have gotten better since the time I am writing this, but no matter what, the love of God through Christ is eternal. God is present in our lives through the Holy Spirit always, and all darkness will be overcome by the light of Christ.
Peace and Blessings,
The Pastor's Peace Archive™
Read Pastor Brian's thoughts from past years.
The Pastor’s Sermon™
Listen to Pastor Brian's sermons, when available, recorded during Morning Worship and other special worship services.
The Pastor's Sermon Archive™
Listen to Pastor Brian’s sermons from past years.
The Pastor's Peace™ and The Pastor's Sermon™ are © 2020 by The Beaver United Church of Christ and Pastor Brian Eastman. If you wish to copy or reproduce any content from the Beaver United Church of Christ web site, please contact Pastor Brian Eastman.