Pastor's Letter - June
Grace and peace in the name of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
I remember as a kid loving the side porch at my house. I grew up in a half-double in Frackville two blocks down from the Little League field on Center Street. Unique to our home was this porch that did not face out to the street we lived on (though we had one of those too). No, this porch was on the side of the house, facing south. We had no house next to us because there was a large lot that was owned by the water company. The result was that we had a great view of the next block and a half.
This porch, in the summer months, was a gathering place for my friends. We would go down the street, get sandwiches at the very small mom and pop store a few blocks away, come back, and have lunch there. We would play with our action figures and matchbox cars there. As we grew older, it became the place where we would sit and solve all the worlds' problems. We would then gather down at the lot owned by the water company and transform it into a very competitive whiffle ball league.
Nothing beat sitting there and watching the rain and hearing the sounds of the earth being replenished. I remember that place fondly, and think of it as a refuge. At my current house, we also have a side porch that I often go out to just sit there and take in the surroundings. Again, I love to sit out and hear the rain.
Maybe you have a place like that too. Perhaps you have a place that represents safety and comfort and memories of times gone by. Perhaps that place is long gone, and you too have sought to recreate some semblance of it in your adult life.
In the Gospel of John, there is an interesting thing that happens in the resurrection story. Mary cries out "Rabbi!" or "Teacher!" once she recognizes the resurrected Jesus. That was her safe place- being with Jesus, being taught by him, following him and joining in the community that he had formed. For a moment, she feels like everything that was just taken from her has been returned.
Jesus' response to her? "Do not hold onto me." Wow, when you think about it, that is somewhat harsh! He is telling her in that statement that things are not going to go back to being the way they were before. This era, in which death has been defeated, is a new time, a new reality, and as such, things will not be the same. For one thing, Jesus isn't sticking around on Earth; in a very short time, Mary and the disciples, among others, will witness his ascension.
Try as I might, I cannot perfectly recreate that childhood setting. My grandmother's home still stands, and the porch is still there. I could fill it with furniture, I could wait until it rains, but the fact is that the times have changed. For one thing, most of the people I gathered with on that porch have moved away. I honestly don't even know where some of them live anymore. That setting was a product of its time. And even though I try to recreate it in my adult home, it is very, very different. The setting is different. There is a large private garage on the adjacent property, and the view isn't very good in some directions. The houses down the alley look worse for the wear. Shamokin has its share of struggles that play themselves out in the community very much out in the open.
Jesus is making something new in each and every one of us. So we must seek to search within ourselves to find what that looks like. It's not just about where we sit and spend time for comfort, either- it is where our ministry is moving, who we are ministering to, with, and for, and what our life as a community of Christ looks like in 2018 and beyond.
Blessings on that journey as we all figure this out together!
-Pastor Brian Beissel