Life is complicated; handle with compassion.
“Life’s complicated: handle with compassion”
I wish I could claim this line but it is from Rev. David Lose, President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where I attended and from which I graduated. Yes, life is complicated and that is probably not something new to you. Every day seems to prove this to be true. Complications can come from trying to master new technology, changes in life such as illness or just aging, trying to maintain healthy relationships or trying to navigate thru the maze of insurance companies, education requirements, or simply to try to have someone repair an item or issue at home. It seems that life was simpler at one point and maybe if was but it was also more difficult in other ways.
As society changes the way it views families, marriage, healthcare or whatever the issue is it just seems to confuse what we have been taught to believe. The same is somewhat true in the church as we attempt to navigate a time of transition and transformation. Some long held ideas just don’t seem to work as well anymore. An example is Sunday School where it is more and more challenging to attract children and their families for an hour on Sunday morning for faith formation. Now we are told to be flexible and put faith formation in the hands of the parents or grandparents with guidance from the church. I could offer other examples as well, such as how to reach out to people, how to relate to the neighborhood, styles of worship and many more. It is just more complicated and dare I say challenging. And when this takes place we tend to become anxious and in so doing we become more critical of the situation as well as each other and we may even take on a defeatist attitude.
This is all normal and understandable as long as we don’t let it overtake us and affect our relationship with each other. The church is a place of hope, faith, love, forgiveness, grace and compassion. I am tempted to put a sign on the entrances that says, ‘Enter at your own risk, we believe in the future and fear it not.’ No I am not naïve just challenging us to be faithful to our beliefs and to the one we follow, Jesus. St. Paul put it best in Philippians 4: 4-9:
‘Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentlenessBe evident to all, the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but inEverything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whateverIs true, what is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’
In the words of St. Paul we are called to: Rejoice! Be Gentle! Prayerful! At Peace! This is possible because we have God with us, Emmanuel, the Messiah, Jesus our Lord. So yes life is complicated and will only become more so I am afraid and we have the choice to confront this with faith and peace or with anxiety and fear. I challenge each of you and myself to choose Faith! To follow the words of St. Paul and think on the pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy aspects of life, ours and those around us. Let St. Mark’s be a place of such spirit and confidence. A place where we acknowledge that ‘Life is complicated: We choose to handle with compassion’!
With Joy and Peace,