Pastor Bill Schnackenberg, Centralia United Methodist Church
I woke up today listening to the birds singing. Ever wondered what they were singing? Or to whom? That’s one of the things I ponder every Spring. It is such a joy to hear their varied songs! They remind me of new life, the new life of Spring, the new life that comes with Easter.
Easter is on the horizon. It’s later than usual this year, but its importance to the Christian faith is not any less. Easter represents the possibility of new life. That’s where Jesus comes in.
Jesus was a practicing Jewish man, not someone who discounted Hebrew scriptures. Instead he lived them and taught us how to live them as he did. Jesus often told stories that would get us to thinking about life. He taught about new life possibilities in a fig tree or even a mustard seed. He taught about birds in the air and flowers in the field and how they live worry-free.
Worry is that thing we do that is closely akin to fear. It’s the “what if” questions that really get to us. Now Jesus didn’t tell us that everything would be hunky dory all the time. But he did teach us that he would walk with us through each and every situation we face in life – that we would never be alone. That by itself is a freeing thought. And a life-giving feeling.
Jesus also taught us how to grow. He said we could die to our old self, like a seed must lose its identity as a seed in order to become a plant. He said we could turn our face back to God, the God of our ancestors in the faith. He said we could follow him and learn from him how to treat the people we meet, because that would be life-giving.
Everything Jesus said or did was based on the relationship he had with his Father, whom we know as God. It was all about loving God as he loved God. He walked the talk. And the talk and walk were always about the two great commandments found in Hebrew scriptures – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
For the complete column, please see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.