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.
It is the end of December, right before Christmas. Perhaps like me you are finishing your Christmas shopping, or putting up some last-minute Christmas decorations. Maybe you are planning your travel for the holidays and getting ready to head out of state. Per chance, did you survive the lines at Kroger, or did you just order delivery or pickup? No matter what you are doing, you are probably preparing in some way for Christmas Day. We go through these things every year, and all of us are hoping we get to experience a nice Christmas with our family and friends. After that we will head into the new year, no doubt with some resolutions, many of which we might even have made before. The cycle continues into a new year, 2024.
As I go through the motions I sometimes wonder if things have become just a repeat year after year of the same things I’ve done before. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the same things, but Christmas does not give me the same wide-eyed wonder and awe that it did when I was a kid, counting down the minutes until Christmas morning. Now obviously as a kid, I’m sure I was excited by possible toys under the tree, but I think as well that there was still a newness to Christmas that is no longer present some four decades later. I also don’t think that this just applies to Christmas. There are many things in life that can just become habit and perhaps lose the excitement that they once possessed. How do we truly look for the new in life, rather than just repeating the same?
When we look at Christ’s ministry, we see many allusions to and talk of newness. We become new ourselves as we die to the old through baptism and are reborn into a new life in Christ, sharing in his resurrection and life eternal. Paul writes extensively in his letters about the newness that is to be obtained through Christ. Christ also talks about the constant emergence of the Kingdom of God coming into the world. How, as disciples, do we look for the new in the world instead of just doing the same old thing? I don’t think this is a question that is asked enough. If one is doing well, who wants things to be new, to change? I do think, however, if we take the time to look at the world around us, and really look, the Holy Spirit does inspire us to see not only the new possibilities in the world, but to be agents of bringing forth these Kingdom visions into the world. As we celebrate the New Year, let us also celebrate our calling to make things new, to have the courage to do so, and be part of the body of Christ working to create a new and blessed world for us all.
Peace, Blessings, and Happy New Year!
In January I performed two funerals for church members whom I had known since my first days at Beaver Church. This is in addition to the many funerals that I performed last year for church members and friends. It is fair to say that everyone in the church has experienced a great deal of loss recently and this has been a significant difficulty. I’m thinking of this as we are going into February, when we will all be bombarded by advertising geared towards love and loved ones for Valentine’s Day. For many this will serve as a reminder that those whom we love are no longer with us, a reminder of our grief. In times like this I turn to scripture for support, and one passage I try to remember is John 16:22 “So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” This is spoken by Jesus to the disciples when he is telling them that he will be returning to the Father. He knows that he will be leaving them and he is giving them guidance on how to handle the grief they will inevitably experience.
As Christians we believe that death is not the end. We believe that those whom we have lost will be reunited with us at some point in the future. Thus, we have pain now, but in the future we will rejoice again. This does give us hope for the future, but it does not necessarily help us with the grief that we face today. In thinking more about this, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes we can actually focus too much on getting rid of grief, as if it was a bad thing that we should not experience. In reality, grief in itself is not bad: it is difficult, it can be painful, but it is the result of truly loving someone. Without love there would never be grief. If we did not love someone dearly, we would not deeply miss them after their passing.
If we look at Christ and his life, we see that he was indeed human and divine, and experienced the full range of human experience including grief and loss. Even Christ wept for those whom he lost. I’ve heard it said that grief is love that has no place to go. In this case, we see that grief is a sign of our love for others, love that will never cease, even if that person is no longer with us. If love for others is eternal, perhaps that is a sign that those whom we love will also be with us always, even if it is in a form we will not fully see until a future time. So, as we come to Valentine’s Day, we will inevitably have joy and grief, but both of these come from love, God’s most wonderful and eternal gift to us all.
Peace and Blessings,
The Pastor's Peace Archive™
Read Pastor Brian's thoughts from past years.
The Pastor's Sermon Archive™
Listen to Pastor Brian’s sermons from past years.
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