Message from Our Pastor
Excerpted from Pastor Hoffman's February 3rd homily. Relevant text: Corinthians 13: 1-13
Dear members of the Lutheran Church of St. Mark,
You have betrothed yourself to the one Lord our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God and Father of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, and yet our brother; and to the Holy Spirit, who with the Father and Son, has been since the beginning.
I wonder if you truly know what it means to love the one to whom you are betrothed, to love with all your heart, and mind, and soul.
To love with patience.
How often do you communicate with God in haste and hope that your betrothed with respond with the same haste? Certainly you understand you need patience, and that you need it right now! Perhaps this prayer would be helpful to you:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Of course, you know what it is to be kind in your love, knowing that how you treat one another, both those you know and those you don’t know, is how you treat your beloved. So be kind. If someone has offended you, tell them, nicely. And, if they won’t listen, take another person with you and tell them again, even more nicely. This is how scripture tells us to deal with each other, not by talking behind each other, or spreading rumors, or being arrogant.
Because love isn’t like that. Love is not envious or boastful.
This is a hard one for the church bride. Everyone wants to be the best and biggest and have the most glorious of gowns. Everyone wants to be known and be the envy of the others in town. But that’s not love. At best, that’s keeping up with the Joneses, and at worst, it is war.
The love you have with your beloved does not insist on it’s own way. There is no bargaining with God, and here in the church, there isn’t anything that has ALWAYS been done that way before. And just because God, or some committee, or the pastor, or one of you, changes things doesn’t mean it was wrong before. It just means that something is different. And if you wait long enough, it will change again into something else.
So, please, for the sake of your own physical and spiritual health, don’t brood in your irritability and don’t be resentful about change. See it for the opportunity that it is, the opportunity to grow, to learn,
And by all means, if something fails, don’t shout it from the rooftops. We learn more from our failures than we do our successes. Look for every small step forward, claim every truth that overcomes hate, every goodness that beats back evil.
As you wait for your beloved, don’t focus on the waiting, but on the love that bound you together. It is the love that will allow you bear all that comes your way. It is the love that will be the flicker of belief when you think your beloved has deserted you. It is the love that will allow you to hope for a path when there seems to be no way. Love will carry you through until you can finally say, “I do.”
Dear friends, to love your best friend for a lifetime is not easy, as most of you know.
To love a beloved for whom you wait is just as difficult. You might wonder how to love an unseen beloved. You can see him. Take a look around. Your beloved is in the eyes of the person next to you, in the hands of the person in front of you, in the smile of the person behind you, in the pain of the person across the aisle, in the needs of the person on the street corner, in the heart of everyone you meet. To love all of these is love Christ – the bridegroom for whom we await.
May you be found to be waiting faithfully with hope and love, knowing that the most important of all is love.
With sincere prayers and a commitment to walk and wait with you,