From The Rev, Dec. 31, 2014

Dear Friends,
Like many of you, I’m not much for New Year resolutions. However, I have found that the beginning of a new calendar year does afford an opportunity to reflect on practices in my life that need to be adjusted, renewed or stopped. Such reflection can set a tone for a new chapter in my life.

What do you hope this New Year will bring? Here are a few of my hopes:

I hope there will be more peace in this world, and people will change their ways and stop killing each other, and people would value each others’ lives.

I hope things will change and more people will come through the doors of our church and fill up the pews.

I hope people will stop giving excuses about how their lives are so busy and they don’t have time for God and the church unless it involves Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals.

I hope people will give more and do more.

My list goes on and on. Hope is great, but if you put your hope only in what “other” people do, you end up hopeless, worn-out, frustrated and wanting to throw in the towel. The negative emotions will prevail if we focus on what “other” people do instead of taking into account our own actions and attitudes. We can’t fully control what other people do. We only have control over our responses and those many times are tempered by the actions of other people.

A few days before Christmas I was at the Walmart on Mahan. It was a miserable, cold and windy day. As I was walking down the row in the parking lot, a lady had just finished emptying her shopping cart and was pushing it out into the row toward the cart corral. I offered to push it the rest of the way since I was going that way and the wind was biting. I thought I would be a gentleman and let her return to her car and put the cart in the corral for her. She said thank you and told me how sweet that was of me to do that for her. I said, “You’re welcome and Merry Christmas,” and pushed the cart forward.

As I got close to the corral some idiot and I mean idiot (and I know you’re not supposed to call someone that especially if you’re a preacher…but in this case this guy was one totally and completely) walked up behind me and said, “What a lazy a$$ni&&@r! She can’t even push her own cart.”

I was momentarily dumbfounded by this guy’s comment and didn’t know what to say, but I sure had some other reactions pop into my mind as I pushed the cart into the corral and he walked past me and got into his truck. Those reactions that popped into my head probably would have been as inappropriate as his comment. Then I thought to myself how this kind gesture that was graciously appreciated and acknowledged could be so misconstrued. I also determined I would not let that person or his comments ruin an otherwise pleasant and rewarding experience. In hindsight I regretted not being able to confront this bigot and try to correct his misperception of what had happened, but I am somehow certain it would not have made any difference by his prejudicial comments and attitude. You never know. It might have, because we know God works in mysterious ways.

Ultimately, to find peace in our lives we need to place our hope in God and not other people and what they do or don’t do, whatever the case may be. So it is my hope that the hope you have comes from the love of God that is poured into your heart and that it will guard and ground your heart and your mind. I hope that each of us can live out what we profess to believe by reflecting the love of God in everything we think, say, and do!

I hope you have a blessed and happy New Year!

You are loved,