Friday, February 13th

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  Romans 5:1-5


All this week we have been playing around with the idea of change.  Changes for the better are welcome, changes for the worse are less welcome and change for change sake is probably just a distraction.  Change itself is inevitable.


I remember an old Bill Murray movie, probably “Meatballs” or some other sophisticated title.  Bill was playing the camp director of a summer camp full of misfits.  The night before a big competition against the other camp where the kids all wore matching uniforms, Bill led the “team” in a rousing chorus of “It just doesn’t matter.  It just doesn’t matter.  It just doesn’t matter.”


Well, the truth is, many of the changes that we worry so much about, that we try so hard to manage, really don’t really matter.  But some DO matter.


I heard this week from a woman still sorting through having left her husband of many years after finally admitting that the physical and mental abuse she and her children endured from him just weren’t going to end.  He wasn’t going to change.  Another woman asked for prayers for her son’s addiction – she is praying he will.


Do we welcome a relationship or seek to leave one?  Do we walk away from an unsatisfying job or stay for the check?  When life closes in, do we change scenery or seek to change ourselves?  All of these matter. 


Paul seeks to encourage us in Romans 5.  He uses words that immediately bring mental pictures to each of our minds – suffering, endurance, character and hope.  We each know what these words are communicating to us, right now, wherever we are in life.  We all have different stories.  We all can claim the promise that, by faith, God’s love is being poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  God will help us sort it all out.


Reinhold Niebuhr is credited with writing the prayer that we will use to close this week although that is still much debated.  He might have gotten it from somewhere else.  He might have used slightly different words.  But this prayer has become an important piece in the change process for those who seek to leave their painful pasts behind them.  It is a prayer of profound hope, personal humility, and the courage that faith brings to our lives.


Let us pray:  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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