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Light in the Darkness

Monthly Pastoral Reflection for March 2023 by Pastor Hector Garfias-Toledo

“I will always show you where to go.

I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places…” Isaiah 58:4 (MSG)

A couple of Sundays ago, Pr. Jenna, in her message, reminded us that the festival of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus marked the transition from Epiphany to Lent. She said that light is in us and emanates through our lives as we go on in our daily lives. It is a time to reflect the light of God’s glory in the dark places in life.

For me, like for many of you (I believe) those moments of darkness and disorientation caused by unexpected events in life, lead us to paralysis. Our hopes, dreams, and even our lives seem to crumble into pieces. Many times life crushes all of who we are into dust which is scattered and lost in the emptiest of spaces.

That is also true in our life as a community of faith. As a congregation, we have touched bottom several times. We have experienced a fire, conflicts, transitions, and a pandemic which disoriented us, and paralyzed us.

Even when we recognize it and want to do something about it, or to move on, we can’t do it. Under such circumstances, we commonly wait for someone else to do it for us, and in the meantime, nothing happens. As a result of it, we become tired of doing the same thing harder and harder yet getting the same result, we grow frustrated, discouraged, and angry. And even if we begin to move, we do not like the direction, style, or approach. We succumb to despair.

That is not new. I like to think of the Lord looking at us (through history) and nodding his head with a compassionate chuckle, looking at us, and saying “here we go again.” I have told you that I will always show you where to go.

This Lenten season we will walk a journey in different levels of our life as disciples of the Lord. We will enter the story of Jesus' journey from the entrance to Jerusalem to the cross of Calvary. We will let the dust of our crushed lives be taken by God to reform us and blow in us the breath of life.

As a congregation we will begin a journey to intentionally re-discover the ultimate purpose that God has for us as a congregation in this place. And, how every one (council, staff, core ministry leaders, other supporting groups, and schools) will walk together the journey that the Lord is showing us, with a common and shared purpose, to bring healing and wholeness to the community.

On Sunday mornings (especially in the winter) when I arrive at church I walk in the sanctuary. It is quiet, dark, and to some degree strange. However, there is a holy presence that invites me to think and reflect on the past days in the week, and also to join God’s vision for the coming days.

I also think of the stories I have heard from you, the tears, the smiles, the complaints (yes a few of them), the times that we have been paralyzed, disoriented, and succumbed to despair. But also of the dreams, visions that the Spirit has placed in your hearts, laughing, joy, and the faith that tells us that even when our lives, and this building feel empty, dark and cold, the lord has said “ I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places…”

And as the light begins to emanate from the stained glass and the skylight, and noises begin to fill the space, I am reminded that the church is the people who will be gathered that day by the Spirit. Bringing them from the places where the Lord showed them to go, and bringing them to be fed, assured, and healed in order to go again and be the movement called “church.”

That is the movement of people that enters the story of love that God continues to paint through Christ in our lives.

Looking forward to seeing you along the way in this Lenten journey. Your sibling, companion, and servant in Christ,

Pastor Hector Garfias-Toledo

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