From the Pastor

A Message From Pastor Miranda Denler

There’s just not enough time in the day. I can’t begin to imagine how many times I have uttered those words. As vaccinations continue to increase and more opportunities become available to us, it seems as though life is only getting busier.

There was a moment at the beginning of this crisis, exactly one year ago today, when life was suddenly different. Rob has been getting reminders on his phone of all the things we did together during his first furlough in April 2020. On this day, a year ago, we made his grandmother’s biscuit recipe and my grandmother’s sausage gravy recipe and shared in the mixing of our family heritage. Over the course of the extra time we spent together, we played games, at which Rob always cheated, tried to perfect the making of meringue, and took a lot of walks with Niko. I will always look back on this time as one of the most stressful experiences of my life that was made brighter by the time we spent together. A year later, life has changed drastically again. Rob and I have meetings most evenings and no longer seem to have time to bake or play games. There’s a little bit of a sense that life is returning to something familiar, while still being altogether different.

Not everyone got to experience periods of rest in the pandemic. Some were struggling to make ends meet for their family, dealing with the crisis directly in their jobs, or were forced to spend time at home alone. I recognize that what Rob and I experienced was blessing compared to so many others. Still, I learned something that I think can apply to all our lives now: we must stop and smell the roses.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t make that phrase up, but I did learn more about how it can bring joy to my life. Even amid stress and difficulty, when I was able to slow down and enjoy something for just a little bit, life seemed so much sweeter. What brings that sense of belonging and love comes not from the activity or the beauty of the rose, but from the reminder that what’s important is not a busy calendar.

1 John 2:15-17 (NIV):

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world –the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does –comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

The writer doesn’t mean that stopping to smell the roses is objectively a bad thing because roses are of the world. In fact, the writer clarifies that what is “of the world” are the desires of sin: jealousy, one-upmanship, greed, wealth, power, and more of the like. The world is not bad. God created the world and wants us to enjoy it. However, our sin corrupts us so that we no longer enjoy the world, we try to own it. This is what the writer of 1 John instructs us to avoid: becoming busy trying to own part of creation.

I am challenged as life becomes busy again to think carefully about all the activity I let back into my life. Each time-consuming action needs discernment. Am I doing this activity for my own gain or for God? Am I enjoying creation and trying to take care of creation, or am I trying to keep a piece for myself? Am I keeping myself so busy that I am unable to stop and smell the roses?

This month, I am going to try to work more in the gardens of the parsonage. I will attempt to spend time with God in the dirt and not worry about other things in my life that are going undone. This is my way of trying to carve out some time in a busy schedule to stop and smell the roses. How are you going to enjoy creation this month? Will you bake your favorite cookies and share them with friends and family? Will you go on a walk or two? Take some time to slow down, remember what’s important, and keep life sweet this month.

In Christ’s Love,
Reverend Miranda