By Pastor Wes Poole
May you live in interesting times!
supposed ancient Chinese curse
real origin unknown
OK, so it’s not my usual Scriptural beginning to the mid-week devotion, but it’s kind of where my thoughts are as I begin this week’s offering. If living in interesting times is supposed to be a curse…then I say curse away! Life around here for the last few months certainly has been interesting, seldom boring, and filled with an endless array of joys, irritations, and challenges. Just another year of ministry!! Seriously though, 2020, so far, has been an interesting time. We started the year just fine. A new call and new opportunities for ministry. The family and I went to Disney! Then…bam…COVID…lockdown…the world changed overnight. Zoom meetings, virtual worship, masks, social distancing, Purell, Purell, and more Purell!!
So what, pastor! You might say. Old news! Why are you still even talking about it. We just want to get through this thing and move on. Stop restating the obvious!! Frankly, I got this far in writing and asked myself the same question. Why indeed?! Because of the saints. That’s right, the saints. Not Paul, Peter, Michael, John, or Mary, but all of you; all of the saints still striving mightily to labor in the proverbial Vineyard of the Lord during these “interesting times”.
It reminds me of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven. By the age of 5, Beethoven was playing the violin under the tutelage of his father, who was also an accomplished musician. By the time he was 13, Beethoven was a concert organist. In his 20s he was already studying under the very watchful eyes of Haydn and Mozart. In fact, Mozart spoke prophetic words when he declared that Beethoven would give the world something worth listening to by the time his life ended. As Beethoven began to develop his skills, he became a prolific composer. During his lifetime, he wrote nine masterful symphonies and five piano concertos, not to mention numerous pieces of chamber music. He also wrote sonatas and pieces for violin and piano. He has thrilled us with the masterful works of unique harmony that broke with the traditions of his times. The man was a genius. Beethoven was not, however, a stranger to difficulties. During his twenties, he began to lose his hearing. His fingers “became thick,” he said on one occasion. He couldn’t feel the music as he once had. His hearing problem haunted him in the middle years of his life, but he kept it a well-guarded secret. When he reached his fifties, Beethoven was completely deaf. Three years later he made a tragic attempt to conduct an orchestra and failed miserably. He was deaf, yet still a magnificent musician who kept working regardless. On one occasion, Beethoven was overheard shouting at the top of his voice as he slammed both fists on the keyboard, “I will take life by the throat!” Amen to that, brother!
OK, I’ll grant you that’s not exactly standard “churchy” vocabulary, but Beethoven’s point is well taken. The life we have been gifted in Jesus Christ is still there for us to live, regardless of the challenges we may face. COVID notwithstanding, the mission of Christ’s Church has not essentially changed. The days are flying by, as usual, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and beyond! Like always, this is a busy time as we move towards one of the most important and joyful celebrations in our lives as Christians. We are still, as a congregation, finding our way through these often crazy days! I realized, as I pondered that so-called ancient “curse”, that “interesting times” are the norm for the Christian in a worshipping and ministering community. Interesting times are what we’re all about! The Good News of Jesus Christ is interesting. Finding new ways to tell the Story is interesting. The people who make up this Family of Faith we call Good Shepherd are interesting. God Himself, who is never boring and is always doing a new thing, is the very source of all that is good and fruitful and stimulating. He has blessed all our times, past, present, and future. God has called us to be the ones to spread the Gospel, which is a never ending task filled with variety and new challenges.
The “Holiday Season” is upon us. Christmas is around the proverbial corner. As we lift our voices in praise to God for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, let us also take a moment to thank Him for the gift of His Holy Church and all of the saints who comprise it. May we, and our fellow saints, keep inspiring, encouraging, and building one another up into lives of faithful service. We do live in interesting times! With Jesus walking with us, we are equal to the tasks at hand. Hallelujah and thanks be to God!
Let us pray…
Almighty God, you have called us all to sainthood in your Holy Church. Keep us steadfast in your Word as we make our way in these “interesting times”. We know from hearing your Word that we can do all things with the strength Christ provides us. Help us never to forget that and to embrace the creative genius you have shared with us. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe.
With much affection for you all, I am
Your Partner in Christ,
Pastor Wes Poole †