Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chilling Smoke

No, nothing's burning down thankfully. In fact if anything is going down these days it is the temperatures outside! The "Indian Summer" was lovely while it lasted, but Fall is just as welcomed for Z & I. Winter is fast approaching in the Northwoods and there's no denying it.

There's been quite a bit of hype over winter in Walker. Many people show a bit of Northwoods pride by explaining what Winter most likely will be like up here - cold with lots of snow - and follow up with saying, "But I'd rather be here than the cities! It's is pretty here and not as muddied by the heavy foot, bike, and vehicle traffic"

Overall, I have heard that winter is supposed to be a little fierce across the entire country. There will be days when I question why I live in such a cold climate and there will be days when I think it's gorgeous. No doubt, it will be another winter that will come and go. This winter will be different though. It will be my first Northwoods winter, my first winter married to Z, my first winter doing some on-line and some on-campus studies, and more focused discerning where God wants Z and I after we graduate from Luther Seminary.

For the past five weeks Z & I have been getting up early on Tuesday mornings and making our way to Walker Bay Coffee Co. for YoH WORD. It's a chance for the youth and family of Hope to get together and be grounded in the WORD before we head to work or school (or both in my case) for the day. We randomly chose to work our way through the book of Ecclesiastes one chapter a week to start off. This is one of Z's favorite portions of the Bible and it has definitely grown on me since meeting him. Often people question why the OT (Old Testament) & express that Ecclesiastes is dreary.

Being that we are fully submersed in full-time parish ministry and learning the ins-and-outs of the congregation and community of Walker (as well as the surrounding areas) we hear a lot of things about a lot of subjects. This is applicable for other livelihoods as well, no doubt, but it seems that in the church people share on a different level. Some overly share and others are guarded. Often it is a tad overwhelming as everybody shares their desire to be known, accepted, and heard. Often we have to remind ourselves that ultimately the one word that matters most is the WORD.

This morning we read Ecclesiastes 5 and just to mix it up a bit we often use The Message on Tuesday mornings. Now as I've rambled on for a few paragraphs what we read was, "God's in charge, not you - the less you speak the better" (5:2). My response..."ooph!" I'm a talker & I come from a family of talkers & we as a people all have something to say. Often we find common grounds in asking & sharing about the weather. As interesting as the weather can be, as it does shape our day to day life to some extent, we could be much more intentional to hear the WORD and as a few professors at Luther Seminary would say, "dwell in the WORD."

Ecclesiastes is a bit dreary, but it is real and it is the WORD of God amongst us. At the end of chapter 5 we are given a bit of the Gospel & eschaton (meaning the end) promises:

"After looking at the way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that's about it. That's the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what's given and delighting in the work. It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It's useless to brood over how long we might live." 5:18-20

The weather is changing, as it always does, and life happens. Enjoy it as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes tells us to. Dwell in the WORD of God and you will see the Holy Spirit amongst you. We have been claimed by the blood of Christ and He walks with us daily through the snow, rain, and sunshine. Enjoy it! Enjoy it in the loud, quiet, cold, warm, crazy, sane lives that you have been given in Jesus name. Amen!
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