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The Pastor’s Pen                               October 11, 2017

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” Matthew 24:6

This has been an awful season for calamity in the world. We hear about wars and rumors of war, earthquake, famine, hurricane, flood, fire and yet another mass shooting. Frankly, it’s almost too much to bear.

At first we experienced a communal grief, for our friends in Florida, for family in Texas. And then the news arrived of an earthquake in Mexico that targeted the poorest communities, including those we have served in the past through Habitat for Humanity and Common Hope in Guatemala. For the first time in history, ordinary folks travel a good deal, so news from the Caribbean of catastrophe concerned us in a personal way. We have friends on all the islands, including Cuba from our last church mission trip, and so little news of how they fared.

As bad news has continued to mount, I’ve noticed something interesting. That certain sense helplessness seems to have shifted. We have instinctively discovered that we have more power than we imagined to change the world. You see, the passage from Matthew that begins with observing that there are wars and rumors of wars, continues by naming of all manner of other disasters experienced by people in ancient times as today.

Yet Jesus teaches in the book of Matthew that the greater danger is when people forget to love: forget to love God, and forget to love neighbor. Here then is our hope. The passage ends by saying “the one who stays true to the end will be saved.”

Though we are mindful of ways we can respond to disasters through our community, state and nation, our work as people of faith is first and foremost in another realm. We hear in this passage the reminder that the most important saving thing we can do in such a time as this has little to do with the wisdom of the world. Building a house on higher ground, avoiding rock concerts and large gatherings of people, preparing in advance by gathering important papers in the event of fire, all these reflect rightfully the wisdom of the world.

While these are important, our business is the love business and we instinctively seem to know this. I have noticed lately that we are kinder, gentler, and more forgiving of one another. We’re learning to make room for those around us with whom we do not agree. We’re expressing our gratitude and looking for opportunities to love more boldly.

When Jesus taught about the saving consequence of remaining true in time of trouble, he invited us to remember to love regardless of the circumstances of the world. Loving boldly can be a simple gesture like attending to one around us whom we might previously not have noticed. Gestures of love may be grand, and also as small as silence when any word in a given circumstance might serve only to increase strife.

These simple acts of love reflect the greater love given on our behalf by God through Christ, which does indeed save the world.

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland

Senior Pastor, First Parish Church

Congregational

United Church of Christ