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Autumn Foliage

Riding the Roller Coaster

It is a very humbling privilege as a pastor to walk with families and folk through some of the most poignant, intimate, and challenging times in their lives. Some years ago. a family in the congregation I was serving was celebrating a great achievement in their child’s life. This young person had been a part of a state championship and was soon to sign a letter of intent to a division 1 university on a scholarship! It was only 6 weeks after that when they asked me to come to the house – the young person had just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The news shattering at any time but especially so at such a young age and with so much positive momentum for the future! It was a tough journey and time. Then, months later at a scheduled “check-up” for the doctors to see how the treatments and therapies were doing, the cancer was no where to be found! What a Joy! The journey was quite a “roller coaster” experience.

The first week of April is Holy Week; very much a roller coaster of spiritual experience and feeling. The triumphal entry into the city on Sunday. The joy of the crowds! The contention and conflict between Jesus and the powerful of Jerusalem. The poignancy and devotion of Maundy Thursday. The pain, tragedy, and Christ’s passion on Good Friday. The Great Joy, Celebration, and triumph of Easter Sunday!!

During Lent, sometimes, it seems there is a sort of momentum. It starts low and somber on Ash Wednesday. Through the weeks of Lent it gains a bit of momentum as we share the stories of Jesus working with his disciples and healing people; now that’s affirming and engaging. By the story of the Raising of Lazarus it’s pretty darn good news! Then we walk in like “conquering heroes” on Palm Sunday morning and by the next Sunday, Jesus is raised and “We Win”!

But let us have the courage for the Roller Coaster. Because that’s a bit more like real life, isn’t it, – and real life is what a life lived in Christ is all about. A life that does not shy away from the brokenness of life. A life that lived with courage to reach out to the least, the lost, the left out and live in solidarity with them. A life lived in joy and celebration for the Truth that is the gospel of God in Jesus, the Christ – Risen and alive in the world! Even as followers of Christ (and many times because we are) there are times of sobering and painful experience. There are times of journey and unsureness. There are times of having to do the hard work of Justice.

Yet, We are the Resurrection Folk! We are the Easter People! The last word in our hearts and in life is Life, Resurrection, forgiveness, healing, inclusion, renewal, joy, New Life in Christ!! It is the thrill of living in grace that makes life so wonderful and gives such meaning and purpose to our lives!

May your Easter be one of Hallelujahs, joy in Christ, laughter for the countless blessings God gives, and the realization of the power of God’s love! A power/love so great, even death can not over come and nothing can separate us from!! Happy Easter!

Be God’s, Pastor Jim

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