Pastor's Pen // February 2020
They were two more in a very long line of those who walk through our doors during weekday office hours. He was recovering from vascular surgery in one leg and looking for any help I could give, maybe a motel room as a break from living in their car…something until the surgery had a chance to heel and he could get back to ‘work.’ Work was pan handling on the busier corners of Kennewick. She was his current life partner and caregiver, sort of ‘along for the ride’ at least for now.
What made our conversation unique was a comment she made, almost an interruption to what has become a common exchange between pastor and those who are looking for a handout…”That picture.” She said, pointing to the painting my Aunt Viva was working on in her last weeks of life. “Tell me about that picture. What is it all about?”
The picture is one that I have shared with you before. A pair of hands stretched out over a Bible opened to Matthew 11:28 with the first part of the verse in large red print, ”Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I shared the story of Aunt Viva with her colorful vocabulary, untimely death, and my surprise to find that this painting was filling her last days… Who knew?
It was a word of witness that seemed to ease the burden this woman was carrying as she sat wondering what, if any, future might await them around this bend in life’s journey.
It all reminded me how fitting those words can be in this ‘post Christmas slump’ sort of season. It is a time when burdens can settle in upon any of our shoulders. Amid slippery sidewalks and winter’s chill are other challenges. The darkness. The separation from friends and family. The viruses that seem to fill communal airspace…. I’ll give you some space to add your own.
In Matthew Jesus’ invitation follows some harsh comments about those who have been exposed to the power and wonder of His ministry but not chosen to engage…was that the case for this couple? Is it sometimes true of us? Suddenly His words soften as Jesus turns to prayer and then offers once again this invitation…”Come.” To those weighed down by the challenges of life: “I will give you rest.”
Rest. Relief. Perhaps a word not only for those so long ago who seemed too busy to be bothered. Perhaps a word not only for those like the two in my office who seem so focused on getting by they have no time for faith and church… Perhaps a word for us as well.
See you in church!