Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

Felicia and I had the privilege of biking and hiking through Zion National Park on a crisp clear October day. The journey began by renting bicycles, adjusting our helmets, and proceeding to the National Park entrance where I was informed that I qualified for an old guy lifetime pass. I reluctantly purchased a card that said, “Lifetime Senior Citizen Pass” and we were off. Towering above us were ancient cliffs formed over millions of years by geological forces and weather-related erosion. We stood in awe beneath the Court of the Patriarchs, and hiked to weeping cliffsides and hidden waterfalls. There was something sacred about the day, something eternal, something beyond our lives and our brief existence. We mused upon the magnificent and mysterious nature of our creator God. Entering a world previously unknown to us, we were mostly silent in wonder.

After exhausting ourselves, we put down our walking sticks, and sat by a river gorge under a canopy of blue sky. Looking for a human connection to this other worldly experience, we reflected upon the brief nature of our existence. Even those who qualify for Lifetime Senior Citizen passes are, as scripture reminds us, little more than a mist which appears for a short time and then is gone. Most of our first world problems will not warrant a single page in our life stories. The river rushed by us, just as it has for a million years. It waters carving new formations and bringing sustenance to wildlife and irrigation to downstream farms. Felicia and I could not help but consider just how small and seemingly insignificant we are in the larger scheme of history. How is it that we are small and insignificant, and yet God has given us not only the gift of life, but a calling, a calling to make a difference in the lives of others?

Utah is Mormon country. Felicia and I had the opportunity to tour the Mormon Tabernacle and the Temple in Saint George. Both were impressive historical structures, dating to the Civil War era. We were instructed to cover our shoes in protective booties, well-dressed stone-faced ushers directed us through a labyrinth of rooms with silent hand gestures. It was a different kind of sacred space, hidden behind a veil of secrecy. My occasional questions were not appreciated or answered. It was a world as different to us as Zion National Park. That evening we sat in a hot tub visiting with two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. They were lovely people, we talked about life, about the wonders of Zion, about our faith, all of us following the same Rabbi from the Galilee. It all reminded me of how little I really know, that my perspective is limited, as is my understanding of other cultures and religious practices.

I am thankful for the opportunity to change scenery occasionally, to experience life away from Whidbey Island to recharge batteries and encounter new places and people. We may be small, our lives are without question brief, our mark on history will amount to footnotes at best, but we are not insignificant. We are mysteriously significant, created in the image of God, entrusted with the care of creation, called to live and to love as Jesus did. We have one life to live, we have one chance to leave a legacy, and as the Park Ranger processed my “Lifetime Senior Citizen Pass” I was reminded of the precious nature of this day.

One beggar telling another where to find bread, I am your

Pastor Jim

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