SPIRITUAL MATTERS: Seek new beginning with God’s help

It is hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago we were celebrating Christmas and New Years. Now they already seem like long ago memories and January is flying by. I’m already used to saying 2019 as if it’s been here forever.
Next thing we know it will be Super Bowl weekend. All of the hype surrounding that big event makes me stop to think again about what really matters in my life and how I spend my precious time.
It seems like most of us try to pack more and more into the time we have. Of course, even with all of our “time-saving” devices, time still moves along as in God’s original design, with 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year.
Since we have not figured out a way to make more time, we are left with the ongoing challenge and opportunity of making good use of the time given us.
All of this brings to mind the teacher who placed a jar on a table and carefully filled it with some large rocks and asked, “Is the jar full?”
The students responded, “Yes!” Next she took some gravel and added it to the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks, and again asked, “Is the jar full?” Being quick learners, the students replied “Probably not.”
So the teacher dumped some sand into the jar filling in the spaces between the rocks and the gravel and once again asked, “Is the jar full?” “No!” the students all said.
Finally, she filled the jar completely with water and asked the students what they had learned. Someone answered, “If you try really hard you can always fit more things into your life.”
The teacher replied, “No, the point is this, if you don’t put the big rocks in first they will never fit.”
I believe this principle can be applied to all aspects of life. The fundamental question for each of us to ask is, “What are the big rocks? What are the real ‘super bowls,’ the most important things in life, and have I made room for them?” .
So I have been thinking and praying about this. For me, my relationship with God is primary, then my family, work, community service, recreation, etc. My participation in church is also very important because it reminds me what really matters and how much we matter to God.
A few years ago I read an interesting book with a very long title, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore and how 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible.” It addresses the fact that for many today, church is not one of the “big rocks” of life.
Of course going to church and believing in God are not the same thing, and all too often there is a disconnect between Jesus and our experiences or perceptions of church and Christians.
The authors lift up four major reasons people give for not attending church: “I feel judged, I don’t want to be lectured, Christians are a bunch of hypocrites, and your God is irrelevant to my life.”
They then suggest these four responses: “radical hospitality, fearless conversations, genuine humility, and divine anticipation.” Interesting stuff as we consider how we might reach out with God’s grace and serve our community even better with the expanded space we now have at Calvary. If you have any ideas about this, I would love to hear them.
Bottom line, I am glad that God’s grace and loving acceptance give me a fresh start each new year, and each new day, as I try and retry to keep my priorities in order!
The Rev. Pr. Jonathan Heierman is Senior Pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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