It has been my sad privilege over the last few days to be of small help to the Roberts and Johnson family as they grieve the loss of Heidi and John. For those of you who may not know, John’s mother Beverly is connected to us through the Pepperell UMC. One of the few heartening aspects of this time has been the way their families and our community has reached out to offer comfort and assistance to one another. The people and clergy of St. John’s Parish, the Townsend Congregational church, the First Baptist Church, and New Beginnings UMC have all literally opened their doors and hearts without stint in this time of sorrow. Father Jeremy, Mark Brockmeier, and Kevin Patterson have all been supportive and kind. The community outside the churches have also stepped up. Representatives of police, fire, and other first responders will honor the fallen and mourn with us. Others have worked behind the scenes in ways we may never know. Most of all, the Roberts and Johnson families have gathered together in grief, in support, and in love. I am grateful and gladdened by what I am witnessing.
Bringing our community closer
I know that Townsend has been challenged recently with sometimes bitter division surrounding some aspects of public governance. I confess I am ignorant of the particulars of this conflict, but I have heard several people express a hope that this time of grieving as a community will bring us closer and will move our community closer to mending the wounds that remain. I hope this is the case, but the thought puts me in mind of a larger truth spoken by the prophet Jeremiah to a people in captivity. The word of God is: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” God’s plan is true and real though we do not always see it well in these days.
Acting in love
I have said before that there will be times when we will all walk in the valley of the shadow. We live in a broken world, and while God can and does make our crooked roads straight, we still are plagued with people and events that act in ways in opposition to God’s plan for humanity. If we declare ourselves followers of Christ, we are charged with building the Kingdom of God. We do this best by acting in love toward others. Winter is still with us, but we are beginning to turn our minds towards the Lenten season. I pray that we take this time to reach out to those we love and tell them that we love them. I pray that we put down any anger that we hold against another. We are precious, time is fleeting, and the Kingdom calls.
Yours in Christ,
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