By Pastor Wes Poole
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another… – NRSV
“Wise believers acknowledge that when Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34), this was not simply a suggestion for getting along. So too, the Bible’s commands as to how we treat one another shouldn’t be considered optional. That’s not the nature of God’s commands.” The Rev. George Vink, a minister in the Christian Reformed Tradition
I want to take the opportunity with this week’s devotion to express my thanks to the many great people in our congregation who have gone out of their way in the last year to promote kindness, goodwill, and the harmony St. Paul is talking about above. It almost got by me, but last week marked the one year anniversary of your calling me as your pastor. In many ways, this past year has just been a year put on hold. We’ve done our best to stay the church in a time when it often seemed impossible to do so. We have weathered the proverbial storm together, difficulties notwithstanding. When I reflect back over the past year, what stands out for me are those times when one of you took a moment say something kind or encouraging, not just to me personally, but in general; helping create a spirit of family and goodwill. When kindness is our “default setting”, we are truly living Christ’s mandate to us. That means a great deal to me and gives me renewed hope for the future. This time next year, the world will likely look and feel a lot different. Good Shepherd will be there to meet whatever that future brings. There is hardly any greater witness to the seeker in our midst than a true spirit of harmony and concord.
Lent begins in a couple of weeks, and we will still be virtual. With the vaccines finally rolling out, the COVID numbers will hopefully start to tick down, and normalcy will return, bit by bit. For the moment, let’s tap into that collective spirit of goodwill and cooperation, and embrace a different kind of Lenten discipline. We are hoping to offer a weekly virtual Bible study on Wednesday nights. Your Faith Formation Team is working on making that happen. This Lent, may we delve deeper into the witness of Scripture and the example of loving-kindness Jesus modeled for us so clearly. St. Francis is quoted as saying “Preach the Gospel, if necessary use words.” This world still needs to hear what we have to “say”. Let’s make sure we speak clearly!
Let us pray…
God of all harmony and concord, we come to you in thanks for the gifts of family and community. Help us to make our communities of faith places where kindness is practiced, as well as discussed. Throughout history, you have shown the depth and scope of the love you bear for all of your people. Your Son showed us how to live, work, and have our being in community. Make his example always our “default setting”; reflecting your love all around us. We ask these things in the Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe!
Pastor Wes Poole †