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.*
Merry Christmas!!! Those of you reading this might think that old Pastor Brian got confused and doesn’t know it isn’t December. I am not confused because there are indeed 12 days of Christmas, and if you are reading this before the end of January 5th, then Merry Christmas!!! I guess a Happy New Year’s is in order as well, but that is just one day, and more importantly, it isn’t something we tend to forget. Christmas, however, is something that many think ends on December 25th, with trees and everything coming down the next day. Come December 26th you don’t hear a Merry Christmas for miles around. It is interesting that an event we have been preparing for during all of Advent and looking forward to with great delight is an event that we are so quick to move past. Perhaps we should focus more on celebrating Christ’s birth not only for those 12 days, but maybe even all year round.
For those who didn’t get a chance to attend our Christmas Eve service, I talked about leaning into the difficulties in the world around us. If we look at the ministry of Jesus, he never shied away from the difficulties of other. He was willing to reach out to those in need, those who did not believe, and even those who actively worked against him. Not only did Christ provide us salvation through his death and resurrection, but he provides us salvation by being the incarnation of God on earth and showing us how such a life is lived. The themes of Advent-- peace, hope, joy, and love--are all achieved by working through Christ to bring forth the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. If we are willing to lean into those areas that cause us discomfort and do so out of love and devotion, then we can work actively to create the peace and joy we celebrate at Christmas. It is only when we are willing to take risks with others that we often move beyond the issues that divide us.
I once heard a professor of mine tell a student who was working on his PhD that receiving your doctorate was not the end, but only the beginning. It was only after you finished your studies that the real work began. Christmas works much the same. We have been preparing for all of Advent to receive the Christ child.
That event has occurred and now the real work begins. Christmas is not about celebrating on December 25th, and then putting away the ornaments on December 26th; it is about thinking about what Christ has called us to do on December 26th and on every day of our lives. Christ calls us to believe, to share the faith, and to let our faith guide our actions so that we work to create a better world, a new earth. Go forth then in faith and lean into the winds of despair and divisiveness that threaten to tear us apart. Lean in with hope, joy, peace, and love, especially love. Go forth and follow the commands of our king the Christ child, the incarnation of God, our strength and our salvation.
Peace & Merry Christmas,
This January has been a doozy of a month weather wise. We have been lucky over the last few years when it snowed, but this past month we have gotten not one but two big snows on Saturday into Sunday morning. As I write this, the month is not quite over, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that this coming weekend will be ok. Of course when it snows like that we take into account safety and various factors when deciding if we are going to keep the church open. For both of those Sundays I decided that I could get there safely, and so we had church. The first Sunday we had a whopping attendance of 17 including me.
The next Sunday we topped it with an attendance of 18. Now I can’t say I was surprised, I was not expecting many, but I always feel that if some folks who live nearby want to come to church and can make it safely, then we should have church. I always make a joke in those circumstances that if 12 were good enough for Jesus, then it is good enough for me. I was asked one of those Sundays if it felt weird to preach to such a small number of people, and although it was certainly different, I like to think that it was meaningful all the same. So often we get focused on the size, or perceived influence of something to determine its importance, however bigger is not always better. Yes sometimes sharing the Lord to thousands of people can be wonderful, but it can be just as wonderful to share it with one person. If we look at the ministry of Jesus, we do see times when he preached to the multitudes, but what we see more of is Jesus sharing the Good News with small groups of people or even individuals. In fact one of the best known lines of scripture from the New Testament, John 3:16, does not come from a speech to a large crowd, but rather a very important one on one conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus.
I point out all of this to say that Christ’s work is done all over the world in a multitude of settings. It is not just done by preachers testifying to large groups, it’s not even done by just preachers, it’s done by all believers. No matter who you are or what situation you are in, you have the power to share God’s love. Everyone is capable of sharing the Gospel in word or deed. It is often in these smaller settings that we really connect, that we really can feel the Spirit of God working in our midst.
So, no matter who you are, you have a ministry, and everyone’s calling is important and part of bringing forth God’s kingdom. In light of that, I think my joke should really be that if just one person was good enough for Jesus, than it is good enough for all of us.
Peace and Blessings,
Well, I am glad that spring will technically begin in March. I am certainly tired of winter. We have had the weirdest weather this year ranging from 65 degrees in January to the polar vortex, to all that snow and ice on Saturdays and Sundays. I have so far fallen twice on ice this year, spraining my hand the first time and just bruising myself the second. My wife says that I am accident prone, but I just call it unlucky. The second time I fell I remember just lying there on my back for several minutes. Not that I was seriously injured or couldn’t get up, but I was just so frustrated from falling again, and had no desire to get up. Life is like that sometimes; we fall down, are hurt, become frustrated or scared, and are reluctant to continue on.
This type of dynamic often occurs in our relationships with others. We spend time and invest energy in someone only to be hurt by him or her later on. We can become fixated on the hurt inflicted on us, not only causing a distance in our relationship with them, but also creating distance in our relationships with others, out of fear of a similar injury. One of the things emphasized by Jesus throughout his ministry is forgiveness. Not only forgiveness of our sins by God, but also God’s directive that we should forgive others. This is not always easy, in fact many times it is very hard, but it can be powerful and beneficial. One of the positives of forgiveness is the freeing power it can have for the person who forgives. It is not about saying that the offense was ok, but rather it is suggesting that one can acknowledge the offense, accept it and move on, focusing on the hope of the future, rather than on the sadness of the past. Perhaps we can have a positive relationship with the person we have forgiven, or at the very least the act of forgiveness helps to free us to trust again the other relationships in our life.
In addition to forgiving others we are also called to forgive ourselves for mistakes we have made in the past. If God can love and accept us for who we are, then we should be able to as well. Again, it is not that the mistakes we have made in the past are ok, it is that we have learned from them, accept them, and move on from them with hope for the future--that we have learned from these mistakes and can be better people moving forward.
Sometimes it is tempting to just keep lying down refusing to get up again and face the possibility of being hurt or hurting others, but if we refuse to move on then we will go nowhere and have little hope for a new future, a new creation. This Lent think about the many ways we can better follow God’s calling, remembering that forgiveness in all its forms is always part of God’s path.
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 © 2019 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.