Today’s Word from Pastor Tom…

Who said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Not true. Why, for example, just recently I had an experience that taught me why it is helpful to turn on the light prior to brushing my teeth. Did you know that in the early morning winter light a tube of sunblock can “feel” exactly like a tube of toothpaste? Did you know that? Well, it can. Notwithstanding a really foul taste, it only took me about 45 seconds to find the light switch and realize my faux pas. See, I can learn.

It is for me not so much about learning new tricks as it is about exercising my gray matter. Consequently, I love online options like MasterClass and TED Talks. While it may not sound particularly erudite, for me, knowing when to turn on a bathroom light falls into the category of being able to learn. (My teeth are currently protected from sunburn… yay!)

Several years ago, following a Sunday worship, one of my sainted senior ladies took my hand in hers and with love in her eyes remarked, “Oh Pastor, I have always loved that sermon.” I thought it was a new one. Sugar! There is somewhat of an inside joke among clergy that we only have four basic sermons, each with a dozen variations. To be perfectly honest, sometimes, I wish certain “sainted seniors” wouldn’t feel so inclined to “honestly” love me quite so much.

As I write this, the temperature is seriously south of freezing, Omicron is leaving a deadly swath across our country, our power has been out since 0200 (we do have a generator), two more inches of snow have accrued on our hillside driveway, and the hot water shower will just be put off a little while longer.

On the plus side I can make coffee, the hot pad is thawing the bacon, there are yet an ample supply of Christmas cookies, and Brenda still appears to welcome my company. Yay! A win! Oh, and I still believe there is meaningful labor to be about. As followers of Jesus, it is the labor we are all called to be about.

Despite whatever longing we might hold for 2021 to be firmly ensconced in the rear-view mirror, I find the Book of Proverbs able to place both the past struggles and our hopes for the future in the context of growing and serving in faith. The following are some of my favorites:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and knowledge.” 1:7

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” 3:5- 6

“When pride comes then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” 11:2

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” 11:25

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” 14:31

“Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” 20:15

And my all-time favorite, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor” (16:31). Woo-hoo! I’m in!

There are many Proverbs that may have a particular message capable of resonating with each of us depending on where we are at in life’s journey. There is one Proverb, though, that I believe is central to Jesus’ demand for a servant’s heart (“When, Lord, did I see you hungry… thirsty… naked or imprisoned?” Matthew 25:34ff). I will leave it to you to look up, it is Proverbs 31:8-9.

As the calendar rolls over into 2022, I want to thank you for your generous support for the work we all do together in Jesus’ name at Trinity. I am especially grateful for your love and support of your TLC staff. We are all laboring in God’s vineyard. Love fulfills the law and that is the Gospel pleasing to God.

May the joy of being God’s beloved strengthen and bless you in all the days ahead,

Pastor Tom