Grace St. Johns UCCGrace St. John's United Church
of Christ
4120 South Webster
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46807
Phone #: 260-745-4951

Pastor's Message

School Days, School Daze
August 1, 2017

A Note from the Pastor

Dear Sister or Brother,

A couple weeks back I noticed the school supplies aisle being set up at Walmart, and my heart sank. The thought of summer's impending demise and the commencement of yet another academic year has always made me sad. "Wait a minute," I thought to myself, "there is no more school for you, you're retired!" And a tsunami of relief washed over me as I basked in this knowledge. No more school. Not now. Not ever again.

The more I thought about it, however, I realized that every stage of our lives is related to the larger School of Life. I may not be working full time, but that doesn't mean that life doesn't continue to be a province of learning. I've spent decades acquiring knowledge, but there is still much to be learned in the realm of wisdom. As we traverse the winding road that leads from birth to death, experience is our patient teacher. We exist, bound to human bodies as we are, to evolve, enrolled by Our God in a completely individualized academy of living, being, and changing. Life's lessons can take many forms and present us with many challenges. There are countless little lessons that help us learn to move through this life with grace, tolerance and some semblance of peace. And there are also those once-in-a-lifetime lessons that touch us so deeply that they change everything. he course of our lives. The latter can be virtual earthquakes in our lives, destroying everything familiar in the same way that our Milky Way Galaxy will be destroyed when the Andromeda Galaxy collides with it in another billion years. And like that impending collision of galaxies we might wander for awhile in chaos as unwilling students for a long time. But just as certainly as a new, gigantic galactic world will be born in a billion years, so our lives will eventually come together again.

We are not here as material beings having a spiritual experience, rather we are spiritual beings having a material experience. The school of life provides us with an education of heart and soul, as well as intellect. The scope of our instruction is dependent on our ability and readiness to accept the lessons laid out before us in the circumstances we face. When we find ourselves blindsided by life, we are free to choose to close our minds or to view the lesson in a negative way. The very idea that our life is an endless academic year can be dismaying, but our course of study will eventually become something rewarding, even as it brings pain. In every situation, relationship, or encounter, a range of lessons can be unearthed. When we choose to consciously find and embrace each of the lessons we are confronted with, we gradually discover that our previous ideas about love, compassion, resilience, grief, fear, trust, and generosity were far from being complete.

Ultimately, when we acknowledge that growth is an integral part of life and that learning life's lessons is part of our shared humanity, the real blessings of learning rain down upon us. We can openly and joyfully look for the blessings buried in our limitations and defects without feeling victimized by the universe. Sometimes hindsight will be our teacher; other times we will perceive a true lesson while we are engaged in its unfolding. Either way, we have a God whose love has surrounded and sustained us since the moment of the Big Bang in the universe and also from the moment of our conception. We have no reason to worry because the test has already been taken: we are loved beyond measure and we will graduate without fail.

My prayers are with each of you who reads this. Your comments and support over the years have helped my own education more than you will ever know. I am so grateful.

Fr. Michel