Pastor Pondering: Trouble

Published in the February 2016 issue of the First Church, Simsbury newsletter, The Cornerstone.

The world-weary voice of folk singer Ray LaMontagne cries…

Trouble… Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble
Trouble been doggin’ my soul since the day I was born
Worry… Worry, worry, worry, worry
Worry just will not seem to leave my mind alone

I hear LaMontagne’s words and music as a plaintive invitation into Lent. Lent is the season of the church year during which we seek to grow closer to God, not through ecstatic experiences of joy, not in response to warm, cozy feelings of love, but by recognizing God’s presence in the midst of suffering, in the troubled, world-weary, worry-filled places in our lives. We are assured of God’s empathetic presence in times of trouble through God’s own suffering as Jesus Christ. There is no dark place humanity can visit that God has not already trod through Christ’s persecution, torture and death on the cross. In the forty days preceding Easter (not including Sundays) we accompany Jesus to the cross, and God accompanies us through the trouble and worry that dog our soul.

Those who were in church on Sunday, January 17, know that an old college friend of mine, John Fahsbender, joined us in worship. Later that evening, Lourdes and I sat down to dinner with John, his brother Tom, and sister-in-law Jennifer. As often happens when pastors are present, we got to talking about church. Jennifer observed that church is the one place where everyone is encouraged to share their heartache and pain, maybe the only place where we can count on being loved in response to our troubles. This understanding of church was affirmed for me when I visited the small group Bible study led by Cathie Behrens. One of the women present said, “Each of us here has experienced a crisis or tragedy or two, but we can share it here and know that we will be loved and supported.” Caring people are everywhere, at work and school, in our kids’ sports leagues or scout troops, in our family and among our friends. But only church specifically invites us to lay our burdens down and commits to love us through the shadowed valleys of our lives.

Our culture often communicates the message, “Don’t worry, be happy!” Sometimes we hear this as a helpful encouragement. But at other times we need someone to acknowledge our pain and sing the blues with us.

Ray LaMontagne concludes his testimony:

Well I’ve been saved by a woman… She won’t let me go.

Well we’ve been saved by a God who enters into suffering and death with us through Jesus and won’t ever let us go, carrying us beyond the cross to a new life in Christ.

Come to First Church during Lent (from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday), lay your burden down, know you will be loved and that God will never let you go.

In Christ,

Pastor George
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Published in: on June 9, 2016 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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