I love my congregation. I’ve told people too numerous to count that serving as Senior Pastor here at Grace feels like God is treating me with kid gloves. Oh, we have our share of drama. Yes, we have conflicts. No, it’s not a perfect place. But it is a great match, a beautiful fit for me professionally and personally.
I’m also blessed to serve with my Associate Pastor, Chris Tiews. We make a good team, with our strengths playing off one another, and how we’re perceived strengthening one another. That’s all.
60 Minutes has a piece on the persecution of Christians in Egypt. Even long after the persecution and martyrdom of Christians is ignored, we still have hope. Persecution is a mark of the church, after all.
A jar of dirt. A pickle jar filled with dirt from your back yard, sitting on your desk or mantle, reminding you of your origin as animated dust, as organic matter which has received the breath of God. As it stands, a good reminder. A speaker at a conference I attended recently made this the climax of his speech. Keep this jar of dirt in your study, he told us pastors.
A jar of dirt. A reminder that we will end up there as well, once the chemicals dissipate and the water enters the vault. With time and time again, back to dirt and dust we will go. It’s the call to repentance of Lent, from dirt to dirt. It’s the order of things after the Fall, after the primordial days of old. It’s all we knew.
And if that it were it, then the cry of the hedonist sounds loud: eat and drink! It would be worth the stress and worry and concern of hanging onto this life, if it were only dust and ashes punctuated by these brief days of light and joy. It would be worth the lust of gold and pleasures of the flesh. It would be worth stabbing your friend in the back with steely knives if it were all darkness at the end. Pass the bottle and stoics be damned. The worms will win in the end and I’ll at least die with a smile.
But there is one whom the worms did not receive. There is the one who defeated decay and death and worms and corruption. He is my Lord. He defeated the worms and nitrifying processes of aerobic bacteria. He defeated the power of the grave. For me, the worms do not win. The water and bacteria and destruction and thermodynamic heat death of the universe does not win. My Lord broke that system and I belong to Him.
This jar of dirt or flies has no bearing on the Christian. Yes, we should memento mori and dust to dust, but not to dwell. There is more. There is forever.