Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

Have you ever had the experience of receiving a gift and not knowing what to do with it? I was ten, it was Christmas, and my family was sharing part of the season with a very precious senior couple. Margaret and Gene were childless and had been adopted into our family. Truly, they were as darling as darling can ever get. So, I’m unwrapping my gift from Margaret and Gene and my response left my mother mortified.

It was a jewelry box, to which my response of, “What do I do with a jewelry box?” left my mother aghast at my insensitivity. C’mon, fer crying in the soup, I was a ten-year-old boy! What was I to know about a jewelry box? Margaret and Gene offered a bit of a giggle at my somewhat insensitive immature ten-year-old response to a gift that had been given out of real affection. How many of you still have a gift given to you 60 plus years ago? I do. Margaret and Gene’s jewelry box still sits on my dresser. I don’t have any jewelry. It is the repository of cool things like ear plugs, Canadian coins, and ball markers. Yet its value endures.

Sometimes we have to grow into a gift.

It’s Easter. The resurrected Jesus has, according to a part of the Gospel narrative, appeared to the disciples more than once. My guess is they were more bewildered than a ten-year-old boy gifted with a jewelry box. “What do we do with this?” seems a pretty reasonable response to me. I mean, “Fer crying in the soup” (old Norwegian expression), these were itinerant former Jewish fishermen, tax collectors, and day laborers. What do they know of resurrection? This was all rather new to them… like a jewelry box. Kinda.

What do any of us really know about resurrection? Anyways, Peter’s response to all of this seems rather appropriate, “I’m going fishing.” Speaking for the group he declared, “I am going back to my life.” In the world of family counseling, a fancy word for Peter’s declaration is homeostasis. It means, “the pull to sameness.” After grace and gravity, it is the 3rd most powerful force in the universe. It is why, in life, real core change is so difficult. We might wish for change to occur in a loved one’s behavior but without realizing it we are participating in our “family” system in such a way so as to keep the behavior stuck. I may not like the old stuff, the sometimes-dark stuff, but at least it is familiar. “I’m going fishing” was an expression of homeostasis.

Growing into “resurrection” was to be expected. This was not a wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ slay me in the Spirit kind of conversion. The 2.0 Twelve were going to have to grow into this new life. I find the conclusion to Mark’s Gospel so incredibly helpful.
Without a resurrection appearance the angel beckons his followers to, “Go back to Galilee and there he will find you.” In the midst of the unfolding of the new creation Jesus would come find us. Jesus was going to take responsibility for the finishing of this good work begun in us (a bit of a Pauline theme here).

To push the metaphor just a tish’ more, Jesus would make certain the value inherent in this jewelry box of resurrection would not be lost. It would endure. It would bless us.

Our Trinity Lutheran Family is blessing Brenda and myself with a profound gift of resurrection. With Brenda’s cancer diagnosis we have found ourselves out in the backwoods of Galilee. You are loving us and praying for healing for both us. And we are living our faith trusting that God can, and will, use this diagnosis redemptively in the lives of others as well as our own. Sometimes you just have to grow into the gift. Can cancer be a gift? Maybe, if it is embraced redemptively. So, we pray.

We have taken a few days away before we return to the treatment battle that lies ahead. The photo is Brenda in her happiest place. We are grateful for your love and this time away. God is good? All the time!

Peace and love,
Pastor Tom