Recently at a meeting of rectors of old downtown churches, a newer colleague was sharing some of the challenges of his new position. Referring to my longer tenure, he said, “I can’t wait to get to that nice, secure place with my parish like Robert has.” I laughed and said, “Hey, it’s week to week for me too.”
When things are challenging in life, we tend to look around and wish we were in a more secure environment. Sometimes life feels so very tenuous. We may feel that our employment, our health, one of our relationships, is hanging by a thread. That produces a good bit of anxiety and fear. We keep looking over our shoulder waiting for something or someone to come crashing down on us. We wonder just how long we can go on with that pressure building. Everything feels pretty temporary at times like that. Our perspective becomes limited in those pressured times as we imagine things falling apart at any moment.
When things are going more peacefully, we typically feel more secure. When you’ve got enough money, your health is good, your spouse and children and parents are all doing well, your golf game is good, and everything at work is flowing nicely, life seems pretty permanent. Then, if something does go wrong, we may even feel insulted or put upon. That little fortress of comfort is easy to get used to. We somehow come to assume that challenges or problems should not occur.
Our perspective is limited in fragile times. We give more power to the struggles than they deserve and we discount grace. But our perspective may be even more limited in times of comfort. We discount grace then too and seem to assume peace and comfort is the way life is supposed to be all the time, what we somehow deserve and should always have. With both approaches, we look at security as that thing in life that we need above all. When we don’t have it, we want it. When we have it, we expect it to continue.
It’s a mistake to assume that tomorrow is going to be like today but we tend to suffer from that limited perspective. If today is painful and horrible, it’s hard for us to see that tomorrow may just be a lot better. And if today is easy and comfortable, we’re going to take it pretty personally if tomorrow is hard. Security is more important to us than it should be. We expect more from it than it can deliver. Security is an illusion. There’s really no such thing. There isn’t that magical little place where everything is guaranteed to go well.
The gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t offer security. It accepts the fickle nature of earthly living, the great pains and the great joys, and offers us the great hope of a larger perspective. Life will be both hard and easy, painful and joyous, tough and comfortable. While we tend to settle for setting our sights on security, Christ asks for faith and trust. We can’t count on tomorrow being as good as today is. And that is good. It forces us to look deeper, for something more substantial. As we realize that security isn’t much of a god, we find the God of grace whose eternal nature sustains us. That grace upholds us when life is horrible. That grace inspires us when things are joyous and reminds us to attach ourselves only to the giver of the gifts, not merely the gifts themselves.
The Christian faith isn’t a tool we manipulate to make life easier. The Christian faith is a walk we accept, a way we commit to follow, a journey we take. Everything is week to week, day to day, hour to hour. And as we accept that we find the eternal love of God giving meaning to the pain and the joy. Enjoy today, if it is enjoyable, but don’t fall into thinking you’re entitled to it. You are not the center of the universe but the God who is dwells among us. Look past the highs and lows to the great love of Christ. That is really the only thing guaranteed to us in this life.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Each parishioner is requested to attend one meeting of less than an hour to pick up pledge packets and hear a presentation by the Rector, Wardens, and Treasurer on the Vestry’s vision for 2013 and our need for improved financial stewardship of our gifts from God. Those meetings will be in the Parish Hall and are scheduled as follows:
Thursday, October 11, at 5:00 pm
Sunday, October 14, at noon
Tuesday, October 16, at noon
Sunday, October 21, at noon
Those unable to attend will be called on by canvassers. Pledge cards are due on November 4.
St. John’s encourages tithing, the giving of 10% of our financial resources to God’s work in the world through the Church, because we know that giving is integral to spiritual growth. The Rector tithes and each member of the Vestry is either tithing or working toward that goal. Please identify for yourself the percentage of your resources that you will give and develop a plan to become a tither.
Honduras Mission Dinner – October 30 at 6:00 pm
Come on Tuesday, October 30, at 6:00 pm to hear about our Honduras Mission Trips scheduled for next summer. The first trip (July 13-20) which will involve Vacation Bible School and light construction is for youth 16 and older and adults. The second trip (July 20-28) will be the medical mission trip and is for adults. Come and learn how you might be involved.