For whatever reason, over the past few days, I have been more sentimental than usual. Ask my wife and she will gladly tell you I wear my emotions on my shoulder and between the two of us, I am the emotional basket-case in the family. She didn’t marry me because of my affinity for romantic-comedies. Though, perhaps it is my affinity for movies featuring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson that make me predisposed to feel the way I have been feeling as of late.
Just last week I found myself reunited with the chaplain who, knowingly or unknowingly, showed me that the preconceived ideas I had about being a pastor were wrong. Rev. Angela Gay Kinkade was the Dean of the Chapel at West Virginia Wesleyan College (a post the college has yet been able to fill because of the shoes Angela Gay left to be filled). I remember (kind of) walking past her parsonage was I made my way from the fraternity house back to my dorm room on campus. Angela Gay knew who I was. She knew my background and upbringing in the church, yet when I chose to join a fraternity instead of pursing religion academically she still extended grace to me. She didn’t treat me differently as some in the religion department did.
Our daughter, Nora, has been talking more and moreover the past few weeks. I’d be lying if I told you this wasn’t a joy-filled change for us. Nora has been a bit behind in her speech for her age but immersing her in preschool along with intentional conversations with her from her parents seems to be correcting the course. I know the time will come when all I want Nora to do is shut up but right now I am enjoying the conversations and looking back over the past (less than) two years and wondering where the time has gone.
When I returned home from a recent business trip I went straight from the airport to the soccer field to watch Camden’s 0-3 soccer team play. Success for this game would come in the form of Camden not only scoring his first goal (in the correct goal) of the season but also scoring his team’s first goal of the season. Thank God for the free sunglasses given out at the church conference because I was the only dad crying as Camden came over for a high-five and hug to celebrate his big accomplishment. It is six-year-old soccer I know, but the joy on his face as he celebrated around the field like he was playing in the World Cup sent my Rom-Com emotions into free-fall.
I could tell you about baptizing Mia this past Sunday and how as I placed the water on her head all I could think about was baptizing my own children, but I think by now you get the picture.
I wish we had more stories in the Gospels and Paul’s letters about Jesus or Paul looking back with a Rom-Com twinkle in their eye, looking back and seeing where they had come from while enjoying life unfolding in front of them.
I am sitting in a coffee shop writing my first of two funeral sermons for the week. Our community is celebrating the lives of three of God’s saints over eight days. Maybe I am feeling sentimental because, well, death sucks.
The funny thing about the three funerals is that the families for each service have chosen the same scripture readings. I suggested the same list of scripture readings and all three families settled on Psalm 23, Romans 8, and John 14.
In my experience, sentimentality comes in the form of peace. The Peace of the Lord is what Jesus promised to leave us when he ascended to the Father.
“Peace I leave you; my peace I give you.”
This is not a wish.
This is a gift.
The Peace of Christ begins with God and is to be received as a gift from God's own hand. The Peace extended to us by Christ is ours to receive, to cultivate, to share, but it is not ours to create. The Peace of Christ is not something we must do on our own. And isn’t that a relief? God is gifting this Peace to us.