Foundations: A Sermon Response
I received a gut-wrenching phone call at work last week. I’m the administrator at a small music school. The call was from a long-time flute student. Leslie’s tenure at our school precedes my own 5-year employment. I love chatting with her at her weekly lesson. She and her husband moved to Seattle from Manhattan, and she tells me about her Manhattan life - their condo in the financial district and outings to the New York Philharmonic. She asks about me too. My recent vacation, my husband’s job.
Leslie often spends her Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons volunteering for our school. She joins us at community events or at local libraries to help with “instrument petting zoos” for kids. She volunteers because she shares our school’s values — that children benefit mentally and emotionally from participating in music. She hates performing, but when I twist her arm she will share her work at our intimate student “musicales”.
“I have been diagnosed with an extremely aggressive cancer. I won’t be back. I just wanted you to know.”
Jared’s sermon on Sunday underscored the sinking feeling I’ve had all week - this isn’t the last bad news I’m going to get. In Jeremiah 29 God speaks (through the prophet Jeremiah) to the Jews in Babylonian exile: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.” Settle in, it’s going to be awhile.
Joyful and sorrowful things happen with the passage of time. That seems obvious now as I write it, but when Leslie shared her news I was blindsided. I feel the weight of my inexperience. I find myself thinking, “If I hadn’t stayed at this job for so long I wouldn’t have had to hear that news.”
Missio: I am taking off my coat to stay awhile with you. Each Sunday morning, each Christmas party, barbecue, chance to hold your baby, play with your kids - we are fortifying. We are reinforcing our strongholds and we will be ready. We will be ready, together, to face the spiritual attacks that I believe come when starting a new ministry. But we will also be ready to face those banal heartbreaks that are the stuff of everyday life, but can leave us reeling when they catch us unprepared.