Joys and Sorrows

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

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Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

– Matthew 17

It’s been quite a week for our St. Paul’s family. We are in full-blown VBS prep mode, weddings are being booked, and summer events are around the corner. But this is all fairly standard stuff for a staff used to dealing with the usual happenings of ministry. What has been difficult are the unusual happenings.

This week we have suffered the grief and loss of a son of our congregation, D.J. Baker. Although we hold on to the only hope we have in Christ, we don’t do so without mourning. In an amazing alignment of God’s plan and will, Pastor Eric was able to be with the family in St. Louis following his doctor’s appointment at Barnes. He shared in their grief and brought the only thing he had in a time like this – the Good News of God’s work in Jesus.

I was reflecting today on the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, especially Peter’s reaction. Peter wanted to stay in this most glorious, high point of their time together with the Son of God. A place where everything was perfect and protected. Jesus shone like the sun and all was right in the world.

But this wasn’t part of Jesus’ plan. As soon as this amazing moment happened, Jesus told His disciples not to be afraid, they headed down the mountain, and they were instruct not to speak a word of this until Jesus had died and was raised again.

I wish the highest, holiest, and most precious moments of life could last forever. Sometimes I wish I could just camp out in that place where everything made sense and all was right in the world. The harsh reality is that I can’t, nor is it part of God’s plan for me.

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But maybe God gives us these moments of great joys in order to sustain us through life’s sorrows. Maybe Peter witnessing the power of Jesus was just what he needed to draw on when he betrayed the Christ and lost all hope. Maybe the joys of this life are God’s gift to us, made to be a well to drink from so that when the deepest, darkest places latch on we have the strength to endure.

It’s never easy, and it shouldn’t be. But God promises that His grace is sufficient. God’s grace never pulls us out of trouble but it does push us through it.

I invite you, in the days ahead, to care for D.J.’s family. Don’t try to make sense of the senseless, but do point them to the only hope we have when the senseless of this world strikes. Take them to the well of Jesus’ love, that together we would drink from His everlasting promise of life.

Pastor Doug

If you would like to bless their family in this difficult time, a meal train has been established for their households:

For the Carole (Starzinger) Baker Family Home: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/492117

For the Randy Baker Family Home: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/l84kdr

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