What a roller coaster is this crossing called ‘life’ and what a privilege to be an Irvine pastor. Perahps a movie and song in the making: ‘4 funerals and a wedding’ and ‘Baby, baby!’ On Friday I conducted the funeral services and life-celebrations of two special senior saints, whose deaths, like their lives, pointed to Jesus and His Love for us. Then it was up to Aberdeenshire to visit our third grandchild and first grand daughter, ‘Summer Joy’. The wintry weather paled and peeled away in Summer Joy’s resting, sooking, cooing, winding, sleeping, crying, sooking (etc) presence. Limp in total trust, Summer lay easy in our arms as Dorothy and I wrestled to remember Summer’s mum Amy lying in our arms, a bundle of pooping, pouting and puking delight who similarly melted our hearts with pride and joy.
Within 35 hours I headed south for our Connexions’ 10.30am & 6.30pm Sunday services. During a ‘prayer share’ my emotions, over loved ones passed, caught up with me as tear ducts flowed, well exercised from holding Summer Joy. And shortly I will walk our youngest down an Oxford Aisle and give Zoe Joy away to her beloved Zak. Can I keep some dry-eyed dignity, we’ll see. But I’m a realist and know that tears are inevitable at some point.
Meantime I journey alongside precious people who are terminally ill, another who has lost a loved one to suicide and two more funerals for next Thursday. These ups and downs are all integral to ‘in-between-times’ and pastoral ministry. In the Bible’s first and last books, Genesis and Revelation, God makes our world Good and Beautiful; sadly, we humans prefer to turn our backs on God and do life ‘My Way’; God is intent on saving all who turn to Him for the forgiven Life of freedom, offered through Jesus. In the Bible’s last chapters Poet-Pastor John shows all history culminating in a merging brand new heaven and earth, the marriage between God’s People and Jesus Christ, and a wedding feast to beat all banquets. Good News for Revelation’s original readers, cruelly killed and persecuted for their faith in Jesus, it is also good news for all who have ears and hearts to receive it. Being caught in the messy middle, between Creation and Jesus’s Second Coming, requires steely determination to fight for God’s Good, alert to arch enemies The World (standards counter to God’s), Human Weaknesses (our signature sins), and The Devil (deceiver, intimidator, and accuser).
The Lord’s Supper, celebrated yesterday, gives us strengthening faith food for The Fight. Low and behold on Sunday evening we reached Psalm 131 in the Psalms of Ascent, with its calm assurance that all will be well, whatever our circumstances.
Psalm 131 (NIV)
1 My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
I feel a song coming on: ‘Summer Joy Smithy ain’t got the summertime blues!’