Seasons of Mixed Emotions
It has been some months since I have written a blog for Day 1, months of many mixed emotions. We have moved from Atlanta to Minneapolis, Minnesota; from Lutheran Church of the Redeemer to a new community of faith, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd where I have accepted the call as senior pastor. My emotions of deep sadness in leaving Redeemer, a strong and faithful congregation where I had served for 15 years, and my great joy in serving Good Shepherd in SW Minneapolis, another strong and faithful, vibrant congregation, are not at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Those feelings of joy and sadness often go hand in hand. Henri Nouwen, who died in 1996, was one of the most popular spiritual writers of the late 20th century. He wrote in Out of Solitude (p. 54),
Joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of the barren trees. When you touch the hand of a returning friend, you already know that he will have to leave you again. When you are moved by the quiet vastness of a sun-covered ocean, you miss the friend who cannot see the same. Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can't find words to capture your complex emotions.
This season of Advent is a time of such mixed emotions for many; a time where joy and sorrow walk hand in hand. The joy of the season can bring painful reminders of Christmas holidays before the death of a loved one; the joy of the season can bring painful childhood memories of Christmases gone by. The days are short and the nights can be oh so long.
I have been particularly moved this Advent by the power of the lessons from Isaiah, "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing." Such promise and hope! In times of mixed emotions, we live with the promise that God reaches us with the promise of new life and joy and singing! Reaches us in our own wilderness with the promise that that dry land will rejoice and blossom!
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