July 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends in Christ,

Spiritual and emotional highs and lows are an intricate part of the fabric of our daily lives. This weekend, for example, I anticipate with joy presiding at the marriage ceremony of a wonderful, young couple who have been blessed with a mature, committed love for each other. I earnestly pray for their lifelong happiness and expect that they will bring joy to others in years to come. This weekend, I will also hear my youngest son, a recently approved local church lay speaker, preach his first Sunday sermon. This prospect both delights me and unnerves me. Mostly, however, his desire to preach makes me grateful to God for the gift of such a faith-filled child. In many and various ways, God freely reveals his love towards us. May we faithfully praise the Lord for those precious moments in life that shine with God's goodness and generosity.

On the other hand, we also know that many of life's experiences can shake us to the core, taking a toll on our spiritual and emotional well being. This week I received phone calls from six families going through times of financial struggle, in need of assistance with food or other basics. This weekend, I will try to offer comfort and hope to the parents and extended family of a baby girl who lost her life in the birthing process. As I prepare for the burial service, I pray that God will give me the words and the heart to bind up their devastated spirits. I will also grieve in the next few days as a friend from my youth (a fellow who played an adorable red headed, lisping Winthrop in a long ago summer theatre production of "The Music Man.") is laid to his final rest, his earthly life cut short by his struggle with ALS (Lous Gehrig's disease). Such struggles and losses, compel me to remember how precious the eternal promises of God really are. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19 - "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." In the midst of trouble and sorrow, the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, his triumph over evil and loss, renews us and gives us hope for the future. Days of struggle and times of death also remind us of how precious each day really is, a gift never to be wasted or taken for granted. Lives lost "too soon" leave us to ponder the value of each and every life as we mourn the fruit that might have been but will never be. Certainly, times of trouble can leave that age old question "Why?" echoing persistently in our ears, despite our faith.

Highs and lows weave through the tapestry of our lives. Joys and sorrows, opportunities and challenges, shape who we are, who we will become, and how God can use us. In the midst of life's ebbs and flows may we cling steadfastly to the word of God. May Christ be our rock, the Holy Spirit our source of strength. May holy scripture sustain us with messages of love, hope and encouragement.

In closing I offer a few of my favorite verses for your reflection and refreshment.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insights'. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet various trials, for you know that testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and compete, lacking in nothing."
James 1:2-4

"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose". Romans 8:28

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18

"Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and in fact, will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father." John 14:12

In the midst of spiritual and emotional highs and lows, life's ebbs and flows may "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)

In Christ' Love,

Rev. Peggy Ann Sauerhoff