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Beautiful and terrible things

Pastoral Messages | December 2, 2015

I have a bad habit of forgetting to empty the pockets of my clothes. This can become slightly problematic when chapstick or a piece of gum makes its way through the washing machine on laundry day. But it can also be a bit of a treat when pulling out a pair of pants after not wearing them for some length of time, only to discover a few dollar bills in the back pocket I never knew I’d been missing.

With the late November snow moving through Iowa a few weeks ago, I was reminded of this particular habit of mine. It came time to pull out my nice winter jacket—the one I hadn’t worn since the last chilly days of early spring. The coat would accompany me to a wedding later that evening, and I wanted to be sure it was in good shape.

As I inspected the pockets, I discovered a pack of tissues, some mints, and a folded up church bulletin. Judging by the contents, the last time I’d worn this particular coat was to a funeral for a dear friend some several months earlier. It didn’t take long for memories of the grief and heartache and tears of that difficult day to resurface.

Now I was preparing to wear this very same coat to the joyful occasion of a wedding that celebrated love and new beginnings.

In that moment, I was reminded of the words of theologian Frederick Buechner, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid.”

I love this little red jacket of mine—purchased at a thrift store several years ago. Who knows the depth of both beautiful and terrible things it’s witnessed. The stories it could tell of both the delight & sorrow it’s seen. The laughter it’s heard and the tears it’s dried.

Not so different from the words of the prophet Isaiah, who repeats over & over again the message from God, “Do not be afraid, for the Lord is with you.”

Oh the beautiful and terrible things that God has seen through our experiences, as well. What a gift to have the promise of God to accompany us along life’s journey that includes so much goodness and so much struggle. The One who weeps alongside us is the very same God who finds joy in our happiness, takes pleasure in our contentment, and promises forgiveness in our not-so-perfect moments.

In the midst of all sorts of wonderful and challenging (and sometimes wonderfully challenging) experiences, we have a God who faces it all alongside us. A God who says to you and me, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid.”

– Katy Warren, associate pastor

9 Comments on “Beautiful and terrible things”

  • Barb

    December 11, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Life is filled with both beautiful and terrible things; thanks for sharing your wise thoughts on this. Sometime it is necessary to read another perspective to realize we are not alone or the only one to experience terrible things. The terrible things can consume us if we allow them to it. Thanks for sharing your uplifting message.

  • Kathy Ague

    December 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you Katie for your wonderful message! I found your article very elightening!!

  • Diana Holland

    December 4, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Thank you for sharing. The sun is shining and I found this lovely

    Thank you for sharing. A sun shiny day and your enjoyable message.

  • Kathie Heaps

    December 3, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    After the recent death of my dad, I know this feeling intimately. With the beautiful healing while we cared for dad everyday and the terrible pain of loosing him, I feel all too familiar with this expression. God will hold me up during my time of grief. Thanks for the beautiful message Katie.

  • Kathie Heaps

    December 3, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    With the all to recent death of my dad, I am reminded of the beautiful healing during our care of him and the terrible pain in loosing him. I am not afraid though. My master will see me through. Thanks for the reminder Katie

  • Bonnie

    December 3, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Well said!

  • Juli

    December 3, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Well said Katie!

  • Kaaren

    December 3, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Perfect reminder on this day. Thank you.

  • Carol

    December 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you.

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,

“YOU ARE MY SON,

TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

6just as He says also in another passage,

“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER

ACCORDING TOTHE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight