Ponderings for November 1 2018

Someone once said that the best movies begin as you walk out of the theater. I like that.
 
When Sue and I are talking about last night’s film the next morning, we know it was a pretty good one.
 
That’s probably true about a lot of things. The book you are reading. The sermon you just heard. That song…
 
And maybe that should be true about life and the things that come at us as well. Instead of just giving immediate, knee-jerk responses, I ought to allow the events of life to marinate in my soul and start me thinking more profoundly and spiritually.
 
A lot of minor key things have been fogging up my windshield lately. It will do me good to talk about them even as I walk out of the theater.
 
I just heard that an old friend has passed away. She and her husband and Sue and I have been colleagues and friends for many years. Cancer won the physical battle. But she certainly won the spiritual one. The legacy she leaves is of family and ministry, of love and mercy (always looking out for the underdog)—so many live were impacted by hers.
 
They have begun the funerals for the eleven shooting victims from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Sara went to school right there. Did you know that was Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood? What irony! Hate and antisemitism are making a comeback. It makes you want to run away or curse the darkness. But it’s better to light a candle. That’s what Fred Rogers would do. That’s what Rabbi Jesus did.
 
If I talk with one more parent who is grieved or panicked by their adult child’s drift or (in some cases) sprint from the Lord and the values they were raised with…I’m running out of words to say; paradigms to shift; tears to shed; prayers to pray. This Sunday we will dip our toe in that frigid pond as we examine the issue of prodigals and their parents in our “Delicate” message series.
 
My heart was saddened when I heard that Eugene Peterson passed away. (He wrote The Message and many other impactful books that kept me thinking long after I “walked out of the theater.”) He was a pastor’s pastor. In his books, Peterson often reminds me that life and ministry is long and hard. And that many churches and Christians and pastors look for shortcuts and shallow schemes that sugarcoat the pains and try to attract the many. Not wise. Peterson wanted to make his church a place for spirituality. Programs and activities were necessary, but, in the end, he wanted those in his flock to grow deep spiritually, in reflection, in Christ. That is how we handle and even grow from life’s hardness and pain.
 
That’s what I want for us. For Trinity. A place where we face life as it comes and spiritually ruminate on it long after we’ve left the theater.
 
I’ll see you on the other side.
Pastor Paul