December 13 Reflections

One of the things we think about at Christmas time is joy. The season is seemingly filled with joy. Movies promise it. Words in songs proclaim it. But amid all the glitter of wrapping paper and ribbons the source of real joy can get lost.

Joy is the theme for the third Sunday of Advent. Many times, we equate joy with happy, easy, and desirable circumstances. If I have the newest gadget, I think I will have joy. If I take a vacation to a warm place that has a beach, I think I will have joy. Many times, we seek joy in circumstances that honestly are always changing and never meet our deepest need: to receive the Good News of Jesus and his love for us. A relationship with Jesus is our greatest source of joy. It never changes. It never goes away. A relationship with Jesus is a joy that stays.

This week my circumstances changed. I live my life open to Jesus ready to go where he leads. Transitional Ministry is something I have trained for and is something I enjoy. Yesterday I was offered an opportunity to serve as Transitional Minister at the First Reformed Church of Maurice. I enjoy serving at First Reformed in Rock Valley. I am grateful for the places Jesus has taken us on our journey together. Is Jesus showing me that more is needed to be done here, to continue to grow in grace? Or is Jesus leading me to a different place to work in transitional ministry? I humbly ask you to be in prayer for me as I seek to know where Jesus is leading. Pray for my mind, heart, and soul to listen and hear Jesus speak. The circumstances of this opportunity could be a source of unrest. Unrest could steal my joy if it were based on circumstances. No…I am walking free, heart open, and filled with joy because I have a relationship with Jesus, and he has my future and the future of First Reformed Rock Valley firmly in his grip.

Jesus was born into this world in a humble place made for all to come. He was born lowly so all could receive him as gift. His birth was not one of prestige but a place of great joy. The angels sang at his birth. Joy in this setting was not based on circumstances. Joy filled hearts and minds because Jesus entered this world with Good News! He came for people long ago…and he comes for you and me.

This week we are going to focus on joy: the gift of knowing, because of Jesus, that it is all right with us even when everything seems wrong.  Please take some time to consider Luke 2:8-12.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn

December 6 Reflections

There once lived a king who announced to prize the artist who would paint the best painting depicting peace. Many great painters sent he king several of their best art pieces. One of the pictures among the various master pieces was of a calm lake perfectly mirroring peacefully towering, capped mountains. Overhead was a blue clear sky with fluffy clouds. The picture was perfect. Most of the people who viewed the pictures of peace from various artists thought that it was best among all.

But when the king announced the winner, everyone was shocked. The picture which won the prize had mountains too, but it was rugged and bare. The sky looked very angry, there was lightning. This did not look peaceful at all. It looked like the artist had mistakenly submitted his painting depicting storm rather than peace. But if anyone looked closely at the painting, he could see a tiny bush growing in the cracks in the rocks. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. In the midst of the rush of angry weather, the bird sat on her nest with peace.

Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble. Peace means to be in the midst of all the chaos and still be calm in heart. The mother bird at her calm, despite her chaotic surroundings indeed was the best representation of peace. Real peace is about trusting a big God who has us in the palm of his hands and never letting us go. Real peace is spiritual…mental…emotional…and relational. It is the peace that only Jesus can give. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14:27) We are going to think about this peace on Sunday. Some passages to reflect on: John 14:23-26; John 16:31-33; Isaiah 26:1-4; Philippians 4:4-7.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn