As I look out of my office window this morning, I see snow blowing almost sideways by the wind…the snow is piled up and I know from my short walk into the building that the cold is intense.
And so then I think back just a week. I was at a faith formation conference in Anaheim, California. It was sunny. There were palm trees in the hotel atrium. (seven of them…I counted) and the temperature outside was in the mid to high 80’s. It was…pleasant.
Opposites. And in such a short amount of time. Just a few days apart, and I experienced complete opposites. To be honest, it feels kind of weird to have gone from one extreme to another in such a short amount of time.
But isn’t that how life can sometimes feel?
Wasn’t it just six or seven weeks ago that that we were celebrating Christmas? Carols…stories of the manger and the shepherds? And now, we are embedded in Lent, a season of repentance…a season where we remember Jesus’ suffering and his way to the cross?
And we know that we are just five weeks away from Easter, the celebration of the resurrection, and the most joyous celebration of the church year.
And this week we will hold funeral services for two of our members who died in the past week. And in those services, we will both remember our loss, remember their lives, and we will celebrate their resurrection as they experience the promises of God fulfilled. A funeral service is a service both of sorrow and joy…at the same time.
This reminds me that our faith is one of “both and.” Together we live into the reality that life is full of opposites. That wide swings in both our experiences and our emotions are not unusual. In fact, sometimes they feel like the norm.
- We are saint and sinner
- We live in this world and the next
- We experience joy and sorrow
Opposites. At the same time.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” – Ephesians 2:8
As much as we’d love to reject the portions of our lives that feel dark, or painful, or sinful, we cannot. We are not capable of being “that good.” Our confession says it well when it says that we are “captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.” It is only through what Jesus does for us that we can be set free from sin.
And so we live in this world of opposites, stuck in the middle of polar extremes. And we learn to navigate that by learning to follow the example of Jesus, by renouncing those things that are dark or sinful in our lives, sharing our faith stories with others, encouraging them on their faith journey as they encourage us on ours.