Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

3000 years ago, the Psalmist wrote these words:

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95

Now keep in mind that the life expectancy 3000 years ago was only 25 years. That figure is skewed by the fact that nearly a third of all children died in the first year of life. That horrific reality is nearly impossible for us to comprehend. 3000 years ago, life was much shorter, more uncertain, more dangerous, and difficult than the life that we have experienced. There were wars, natural disasters, food scarcity, and health care was mostly non-existent.

2000 years ago, living conditions had not improved much. The life expectancy though had increased to almost 30 years. The people were oppressed by the Romans and by puppet political leaders. Taxation was high, there were no luxuries for the working class, people were illiterate, and opportunities to improve one’s place in life were largely non-existent. Into this setting Jesus told the story of a Jewish father who presided over a dysfunctional family. One son had been disgracefully disrespectful, and the other son had no use for his brother. But when the Prodigal Son came to his senses and came home it was time for a party.

“Bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15

The Apostle Paul had not had an easy life. He was afflicted by some physical ailment, he had been beaten with rods, shipwrecked, and written off by his family. He was in prison in Rome or Ephesus when he wrote these words to the Christian community in Philippi:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

Our world is troubled. I know that many of you, especially those who spend long hours watching or reading the news, are troubled as well. Our world is plagued by war, genocide, political unrest, violence in our streets and schools. The discourse in the halls of power and among our family members is less than civil. There are environmental concerns, climate change, the destruction of habitat and species extinction. Yes, our world is troubled.

Having acknowledged that brokenness, I can say with certainty that things are not worse than they have ever been. We live longer and better than any generation before us. We live without food scarcity and with luxuries unimaginable to our grandparents, or to any King or Queen who lived more than a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, family dynamics have not changed since the dawn of human history, but when you disregard your complicated dysfunctional family, and look at the world objectively, I think that you will find that there is much to celebrate!

We would benefit from a more balanced context of contemporary life, that might help us to celebrate what is right in the world. And let’s be clear, there is more right than wrong. Most people are good, with good intentions, living peaceably, wanting only to love and provide for their families. If you can’t see what is right in the world, then you need a new lens, or perhaps you just need to change your diet and quit consuming the poison of media.

Saint Teresa of Avila was a Spanish Nun and Mystic. She lived in the 16th century, a brutal period that included the Bubonic plague, war, political unrest and the Spanish Inquisition. Saint Teresa wrote these words about Christian life and practice, “From silly devotions and sour faced saints, good Lord, deliver us.”

I am not being a Pollyanna here; I am trying to offer a more balanced context for your life. Can we celebrate what is right in the world? Can we celebrate good in the midst of brokenness that has always been a part of the human story? Can we celebrate life, love, acts of kindness by Whidbey Island neighbors who care for this community? Can we do that and still work for justice, feed the hungry and care for the immigrant and refugee? I feel that we are more likely to find the bandwidth to do good when we are encouraged by celebrating the good that is already present in our lives.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Ecclesiastes 3

Let us not be negligent in our dancing and laughing. Celebrate what is right in the world!

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

Pastor Jim

Contact Pastor Jim if you have questions at [email protected]