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A Message from Pastor Matt

September 11, 2019

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Dear St. Paul’s Family,

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, was published a few years ago and was the result of a week-long meeting between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.  These two spiritual giants, Nobel Laureates, and best friends got together to talk about the great challenge of our time, finding joy in times of challenge.  Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but all the reviews I’ve read have divulged the secret of finding joy in life (Spoiler alert! Skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know the secret until you have read the book!) and it’s simple.  The secret?  Not thinking too much about yourself.  

I don’t know what it’s like for you, but for me, I find it hard to not think too much about myself.  The many challenges I encounter in life either directly affect me or my view of the world.  Times of change can be especially challenging and self-absorbing because change makes demands on our time, intellect, and psyche.  And then there’s the less philosophical and more practical matter of simply getting along with others.  Whether the “other” is a child, spouse or other family member, friend, member of the church, or stranger, opportunities abound for the practice of thinking less of self and more about the needs of your neighbor. 

Don’t think too much about yourself.  That seems to also be Christ’s message to us.  We could back that up by citing the many parables and sayings that bears testimony to thinking of God and others first.  However, I believe a more compelling example is in Christ’s ultimate action of love and self-giving.  Jesus’ giving up his life for God’s purposes (salvation: wholeness for us) demonstrates many things, but most of all, that powerful things can happen when we align our own inner selves with God’s love for the world.  Jesus’ selfless thinking was not free of pain or worry.  Life and death changes are often the hardest and most stressful, but transformational opportunities awaited Jesus and the world through his giving up his life.  

Change is hard.  And stressful.  And can be self-absorbing.  Yet, great opportunities await.  For Jesus, the change from life to death was resurrection.  Resurrection:  God claiming opportunities for life from death, is perhaps the greatest affirmation we can have as we find ourselves surrounded by a changing world.  God brings life and hope in the midst of all kinds of challenging changes.  To put it simply, God is always on our side.

Don’t think too much about yourself.  It’s not a complicated secret, but one we can claim as people of faith.  After all, through Christ’s death and resurrection we are joined with a God who always thinks of others, a God who transforms life from death, hope from despair, and joy from sorrow.  God is thinking deeply about us.  We need not worry!

Blessings on your journey!

Pastor Matt

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