Pastor Brian Steele

From the Pastor's Pen

By now you have probably heard that I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to my personal interests. I don’t care if it’s Disney, Marvel, DC, Star Wars, or Harry Potter, I’m all about it. While, of course, I love the action and superpowers of the characters, I also appreciate how many of these stories speak to the human condition. Specifically, when the show WandaVision came out in the first quarter of 2021, us fans started to realize that the entire show was walking with the main character, Wanda, through her grief of losing her partner Vision. As Wanda starts to come to terms with her grief and accepts Vision is gone as she knew him, there is this remarkable line that Vision tells her: “What is grief if not love persevering?” Grief. We don’t talk about it a lot at church. At church you’re supposed to be happy! We’re supposed to turn that frown upside down because we get to praise the Lord! But here’s the thing: That’s not what the full narrative of Scripture shows us. In fact, we can even see the five stages of grief at different points throughout the full narrative of Scripture. I don’t have space in our newsletter to go through all of that, but I would be more than happy to share that information with you individually if you’d like. But here’s the gist for now: It is faithful to grieve. Church doesn’t need to be the happiest place in town. It needs to be the realest place in town, and that makes grief welcome in our space. The late Rev. Junius Dotson, former CEO of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, told the story of how one of his parishioners told him once that she was leaving the church because it was too joyful and there wasn’t a place to express her sadness. One of my favorite authors Sarah Bessey writes, “George Carlin once said that if you scratch any cynic, you’ll find a disappointed idealist. I think the same can be said of the truly joyful: scratch a joyful person and you will find someone well acquainted with their sorrows.” I believe that’s who God calls us to be. People who have joy not because we have avoided grief and sorrow, but because we have allowed our heart to grow because we have walked through our grief and sorrow. Friends, we have all experienced some sort of loss after the past two and a half years. Some have lost more than others. But we all have lost something, and all losses need to be grieved. Our churches have experienced losses recently, and I am committed toward making sure our churches are a safe place for grief. God invites our grief. Just read the Psalms as a starting point. There is an entire book written by Jeremiah (probably) called Lamentations that speaks to grief. At some point, many Biblical heroes also “grieve.” Grieving in church recognizes that we can bring our full selves before our Creator and Redeemer, and that God is present with us through it. Grieving is an act of faith because we are trusting God with our full humanity. As I read once, the only way to avoid grief in life is to avoid love, and that’s not a life we want to live and, thankfully, not a life Jesus calls us to live. I’m here to be in it with you.. In grace, Brian

Easter has been difficult this year because of the Coronavirus.

However, it still represents a progression that says that we can start something new in place of the things that hinder us.