Monday, 16 April 2018

When the Bad Things Happen

Our little town is hockey filled.  The season here just ended actually.   We have everything from the Timbit Teams, which are as young as 4 years old, to the senior hockey teams and puddle hockey teams.  We too have a team in our provincial hockey league, filled with young people so eager to begin their lives.

The kids on our teams contribute to the community, volunteering at events.  They fundraise for their trips.  As they get older, they mentor the younger kids.  And then they go on to adulthood, many of them continuing to contribute to the game and the community that gave them so much growing up.  They coach, they mentor, they volunteer and they put their kids into the same sport that helped to shape their lives.

Our entire country is reeling from the news of a catastrophic accident that happened earlier this month.  I don't know the exact details of how the vehicles managed to collide, and really, that's not the important part.  Lives have been permanently changed.  Or ended.

We can imagine all to easily how it would be for us if we were suffering through this.

There was a hockey team bus, filled mostly with teenagers, some who were graduating this June.  Some of them maybe a year older, maybe a year younger.  All of them teammates.  All of them family to each other. 

There were coaches, an announcer and a young woman there to assure their physical/muscular difficulties would be taken care of.  There were people who were new to the team, and others who had been there for their whole career.

And none of them will ever be the same again.  14 lives were lost of the 29 that were on the bus.  Countless family members and friends had their lives altered the exact moment those vehicles met.  An entire community has been rocked.  And our whole country grieves.

I can't even begin to imagine what they are going through right now.  But do you know what I have seen?  Love.  Tears.  People praying.  Our town, 2 entire provinces over, has a memorial to the victims, both the living and the deceased. 

The majority of us didn't even know there was a hockey team from Humboldt, much less know any of the team members.  That isn't the important part.  The important part is that our hearts are breaking right along with them, simply as human beings.  And when the bad things happen, you want to help.  Even if you can't. 

There are no words that can change what happened.  There is no possible way we can bring them back, or erase the pain that those left behind are facing.  But through our actions, we can show that we care.  That those lives, they matter.  And so we show with our actions, as small as they may seem to be.

We wore our jerseys on Thursday.  I have a little guy with a big heart, but who hates to dress up for things.  Unless there is candy involved anyways.  He didn't want to put his jersey on until I showed him the hundreds of pictures of people all over the world wearing theirs.  I explained that there was no way we could heal their hearts or bring back the loved ones, but if we could do one small thing to show them that they were loved, we needed to do it.  Those lives were important and we had to show them that we knew they were hurting, but those lives mattered.

We hug our loved ones a little bit tighter, grateful that we can.  We think of those around us, realizing how blessed we are to still have them with us.  And we show support to those that need it.  We become the helpers, just like Mr. Rogers used to say.   He is well known for a quote saying that when bad things happened when he was a little boy, his mother used to tell him to look for the helpers.  There are always helpers.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for sacrificing your one and only Son for us, so that we would know you.  I pray that all of those who are lost and hurting right now would feel your presence stronger than they have ever felt it before.  I ask that you would open our eyes to the ways we can help those around us, and to encourage our hearts to want to do those very things.  I pray that we would all begin to slow down and spend more time with people, not working for things.  And I pray that all of those affected by this would be drawn closer to you, even in the hardest moments.  In faith I pray.  Amen.

Monday, 9 April 2018

The Power You Have

As I sat in church this Easter Sunday, I was reading ahead of the specified verses for the sermon, and I discovered something new to me.

Women were the only ones to help Jesus between the crucifixion and the resurrection.  Now, this may not seem that important, because, really, how hard can it be to help someone who is no longer with us?  They had worked to gather the necessary supplies to finish the burial rituals, as this was often considered woman's work anyways.  It was the mundane that they were tasked to.  Except that in this case, it was actually supernatural. 

They worked together, as women often do.  And they surely talked about what they had just experienced.  And so I believe they just kind of put one foot in front of the other as they worked to understand what had just happened.

The men were confused about how the Saviour could have just died.  What did this mean?  Had they been wrong to follow him?  What of all of the miracles they had seen?  They knew in their hearts that He was who he said he was, so how did all of this make sense?

Jesus had told all of the disciples what was going to happen, but they still had to fight their own eyes.  They had to follow with their hearts more than anything else.

The women went to the tomb in the morning, ready to continue their work.  And found the biggest surprise so far in their lives.  It was empty.  How could that be?  What could have happened?  Had the tomb been raided?

And then a vision of angels appear, proclaiming His resurrection.  Jesus was resurrected, just as He had promised.

All of this happened in the presence of women rather than men, and I have to believe that it was that way for a reason.  That it wasn't a mistake that this was all given to the women.

I kind of got lost in my own thoughts after this, thinking about how that would have worked around 2,000 years ago.  Women weren't highly regarded.  They weren't really supposed to speak out of turn, or to bring attention to themselves.  And yet here they were, having to proclaim the news that the tomb was empty.  That they had seen angels.  And that they knew that His promise was indeed still true.

After the sermon ended, we had a baptism.  A woman who was new to our church decided to make the public commitment of a water baptism.  She had no family in our church, no best friend to welcome her through the doors.  And yet she decided to follow Jesus, and to do it in our church.

The pastor gave her a chance to share her testimony, and then he asked for some of the people to come up and pray for her.  He didn't name anyone specifically, he just asked for volunteers.

Do you know who went up to pray over her?  The women of our church.  They stepped forward in faith, much like this woman was doing, and prayed for this woman they didn't really know.  They didn't have to have to perfect words, or know her life story.  They had to say yes to God's calling and show her that she was loved.

In no way am I trying to say that women are better.  I don't believe that there is a "better" sex, as we were created different from each other for a reason.  And I think that this is one of the most beautiful parts of those differences.

We have many men in our church who are willing to pray for those who need it, or to lend a hand when someone needs help.  But by and large, it is still the women who step forward in situations like these.  I think that women were created with a special desire to follow our hearts more, and to allow us to be able to reach out to others in those times, even if its out of our comfort zone.

And I think maybe the greatest example of that was given to us in the account of those women who had to step out in faith, follow their hearts, and proclaim the resurrection of Christ.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of your Son.  I thank you that he came down to live among us, and to be your perfect example to us.  I thank you for the love that I don't have to do anything to deserve, as that price has already been paid.  I pray that you would empower me to follow my heart when I see those who need that love and grace.  I pray that I would have eyes that see people as you see them, with your perfect vision rather than my imperfect lenses.  I pray that those who are feeling lost or lonely would encounter you today.  That they would know that the sin in their lives has been taken care of and that they are worthy of you, by your awesome love along.  Thank you for all you have given to me.  In faith I pray.  Amen.