Devotion. May 4, 2020
Scripture: Read John 14.1-6a, 18-20, 27
“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
This has been a very difficult weekend for many of you. On Thursday I shared the news that Pastor Tim Berlew, a former pastor of yours, had died. It was shocking news. It was unexpected news. It was sad news. Many of you responded to the email to share your surprise and sadness.
Loss is part of our lives. Loss is never easy. Loss also is experienced and expressed differently among us. Loss feels different when it is unexpected. I like to say that when I can’t quite get my arms around something it is like the computer disk circling in my mind but not finding a place to stop. I keep trying to make sense of something that in my mind, at the moment, doesn’t make sense. Perhaps hearing about Pastor Tim was something like that for you.
In our gospel reading, Jesus is trying to prepare the disciples for his death and what is going to happen to him and to them. Jesus’ words don’t make sense to them. They keep on trying to understand what he is saying to them and they can’t quite grasp what he is saying.
Jesus tries to assure them that where he is going, is where they ultimately will be going. They do not have to worry about a thing. When it is time, Jesus will come himself and take them to where he is. It is not enough for the disciple Thomas. He wants to know more. He says to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus simply responds, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” Jesus is saying to the disciples that their relationship with him is the way. They do not need to worry or fret. They just need to trust and in John’s words, believe.
A little bit later in the passage, Jesus tries again by telling them that he would never leave them alone. He then continues by saying he is giving them a gift, his peace. It is only a peace that he can give.
There are many comforting parts of our faith. There is nothing more comforting to me than the words and promises of Jesus. As I add years onto my life’s journey I also add experiences of loss to my life. Each circumstance, each relationship is different. They are never easy. They are a part of life and remind me that life is precious and sacred, that life is fragile and fleeting and that each day we have is a gift.
As we grapple with Pastor Tim’s death, may we find strength and hope that Pastor Tim is with Jesus as Jesus has told us. As we feel the sadness of the loss, maybe feel the peace that Jesus offers to us. As we give thanks for Pastor Tim’s life with us and First Church, may we deepen our care for one another.
O eternal God. We give you thanks for Pastor Tim’s life. As you gave him to us for a time, now we freely give him to you. May we continue to find the ways that you seek to comfort and strengthen us in these days and in the days ahead. Amen.