■ By Brian Foxworth / Contributed
Many people, as much as they like new things and experiences, struggle with change when it comes to certain aspects of their lives. In the church, I have watched tradition, worship, theology, and attitudes about God change throughout my whole life. I have always seen many of those changes as being positive and leading towards a more welcoming and inclusive environment. With that said, I recognize that the same newness that excites me can be disheartening; even frightening to others. The same observation can be made as we look at society, our country, and the communities we live in.
As the church and the world around it change, what can we hold on to and pass on to the next generation to nurture and honor? This is the part where people might scoff; “I know what you’re going to say Pastor – ‘the Love of God’” and to that I respond, “YES!” Isaiah 40:8 reads, The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. When we experience horrific life events such as loss of loved ones, chronic illness, broken relationships, etc. it is easy to question where God is in all this and whether God cares any more.
During years of hospice work, as well as church ministry, I have heard questions like this a lot and admittedly have struggled to give an answer that would come close to honoring the person’s loss or pain. The good news is that it is not my job to have the answers. In fact, if someone professes to know exactly why some terrible thing has happened, you should seek a second opinion and fast.
“The job of any person of faith is to first offer kindness, compassion, empathy and all the greater human virtues we are capable of.”
The job of myself and any person of faith is to first offer kindness, compassion, empathy and all the greater human virtues of which we are capable.
Jesus says the following in John 15:16-17: You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. These are parting words for soon he is to leave this world and fulfill the promise he makes earlier in John; that he goes and prepares a place for us. Especially for those who know loss, that promise is meant to cradle us when we are being held down by the shear abundant weight of grief.
The call of Jesus to love others and do so with all our heart and soul is always a fresh and new idea. Jesus knew that his great commandment would always be to some degree in conflict with this world. As you see the world around you move forward in time and your own life changes, remember that the love of God for you and that which you have the opportunity to share will always be trending!