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Pastor's NewsLetter Column for January 2007
Bill's Bench
"Many Changes, More to Come"
     In the days before the famous Socrates, the Greek philosopher Heraclites sat observing an oil lamp burning in his home. "What if..." he thought as he watched the oil and wick disappear as the flame quietly burned, "What if ...the real essence of our world is change and the unchanging essences are only an illusion". It took over 25 centuries for modem science to catch up with him: E=mc2, quantum theory, random motion, sub-atomic particles - a world the ancient Greek would never know, but which would not be foreign to his thinking.

     For being a person who does not seek out change, many changes have happened in my life this past year - new living place, new part-time pastorate, and the anticipation of a new grandchild. And for you? What changes have taken hold in your life in 2006? Were they welcome changes, painful changes, or things that you grudgingly learned to accept because there was no other option?

     During the holiday season, several persons noted the loss of a spouse, friend, or loved one that would make this Thanksgiving and Christmas very different from the many that had gone before. The pain of a loss - whether a personal relationship or some physical ability - often causes us to think long and hard about the person we are now versus the person we once were. And sometimes we have great difficulty accepting how much things have changed.

     Of course, there are joyous, happy changes, too. New friends, new interests and activities, family members who blaze new life trails - all can bring profound satisfaction and pleasure. But, it still means changes will be taking place in our lives in response to these changes.

     In this New Year 2007 many more changes are on their way. In the grace of God some time this year I will become your former interim pastor, as Mountlake Terrace FBC will call a permanent pastor. Some of you will take on new responsibilities in church and community life and give up others. I was asked several Sundays ago after morning worship,
"How long do you plan to work for Cingular, Bill?" My honest answer was, "I don't know." Will I go on to more interim ministries? Will I seek a permanent pastoral position? Will I retire in just a few years? I don't have any clear and firm answers to these questions yet. But whatever happens, many changes will be forthcoming.

     When the leadership of the Hebrew people passed from Moses to Joshua, "Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: 'Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people.... It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed' ". (Dt. 31:7-8)

     The story of the Hebrew people became a wild rollercoaster ride through history even into the present day. But the bedrock of their faith and courage to face whatever the future brought is summed up in Moses' words: "He will be with you." The unbroken promise of God is that you never have to go it alone. I often begin my funeral services with the words "Living and dying are done in the presence of God". We alone choose how close and full we want that relationship to be.

     A very familiar verse (13:08) from Hebrews reads, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever". The point is not that we don't face changes and new challenges every day, or that somehow Jesus is "frozen in time". Rather, as our lives change and take on new and different dimensions, Christ will show himself to us in old and new ways to meet the needs of our living. As your life changes, Christ will be there to meet you in the midst of those changes - but he may appear in new ways and in new connections that you have never experienced before. To paraphrase Heraclites, the wick and oil slowly burn away, but the flame remains constant. "[His] life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it". (John 1:4-5)

   In His Love,
--Pastor Bill

First Baptist Church
22800 56th Ave. W.
Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043-3922
(425) 778-2046
firstbap@FirstBaptist-MtlkTerr.org
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Last Modified
25 April 2007
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