Saturday Sermon: Face life's transitions with Jesus
This past month has been a personal reminder to me how there are great transitions in our lives.
My wife and I just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. In a way, it's hard to believe we've been married that long. I can remember when she walked down the aisle escorted by her dad and her chin quivering.
I wasn't nervous until it came time for the vows. During part of it, I went blank. And the pastor had to repeat that portion, and fortunately, I said my part.
But getting married was a big transition. It is for others who take that step.
And when kids start arriving, that's another big transition. In the beginning, you hope you'll finally get some sleep because a baby is on a different schedule than you are. And it can be a struggle to get the child on your adult schedule. Keep in mind, there are many other challenges ahead.
For others, marriage may happen later in life. A spouse has died, or a couple's gone through a divorce. And in the course of time, the person meets this other special person who comes into his/her life.
It's hard living alone. Joy returns. But it's a transition and not just for the couple. There are usually children involved, and it can be a struggle.
When my father remarried, I was a teenager. It took me a while to realize he just wanted to be happy again. He didn't want to live the rest of his life alone. And my sisters and I were growing up, and we weren't going to stay around to keep him company the whole time.
He just wanted to love again and be loved. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Recently, I was in a local restaurant grabbing a bit of lunch. And one of the guys involved with the oil and gas industry was at a table nearby. We were the only customers at the time, and we engaged in a conversation and one of the topics was about children.
I remember my wife saying how important it is to spend time with our son because before you know it, he'll be all grown up and out of the nest. And she was right.
Well, this guy was starting to realize that about his 13-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son. They were at an age when they wanted to spend more and more time with their friends, their peers. So parent and child were going through all sorts of transitions.
We have kids in our communities graduating from high school and college or vocational schools. They are taking big steps toward their future. It's a time of celebration for families, but parents may worry, too. Will the kids have a good future? Will things go well in their lives? Will they come home and visit? We raise them up hoping we've given them the needed tools, which includes a solid foundation of faith, as they go out into the world.
It's a hard transition, to let them step into their future.
Yes, they will make their share of mistakes. Didn't we all? And you can learn from the mistakes and make better choices. Maybe we could tell our kids, "When you fall, just get up and try again."
And no matter how old they get, they will always be your children, and you will always be their mom and dad.
Keep on encouraging them. And what a joy it is when they call you during the week or show up on your doorstep for a visit.
A couple of dear friends whom I have known all my ordained ministry are going through a time of transition that involves a move to assisted living.
Through 31 years of ministry I have witnessed similar changes or transitions in peoples' lives. It's not easy leaving a place that has been home for 25 or 50 years or more. It's not easy for them, family members or that church and community they've been a part of for so long.
There was a lady who lived out in the country up on a hill. There would be days when the wind was just perfect atop that hill. She'd open the windows, and it was so pleasant. She'd look out on the pastures and watch her cows. It was a wonderful life.
But one day she suffered a stroke and had to go to a nursing home. She would do her therapy and exercise each day with the hope of returning home.
Sometimes they do, but in her case, it didn't happen.
But she never gave up the hope and kept doing the exercises and enjoying the company of other residents.
As it turned out, many of them were old friends of hers who because of similar health issues made the transition.
It's important to know that through all the changes and transitions of our lives, there is something that helps us - our faith in Jesus Christ and the support, love and care of the church and those who are our family and friends. The Scriptures give us words of encouragement for this journey we are on: "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid." (Hebrews 13).
And while our journey in life is full of changes and transitions, there is one whom we can depend on, one constant - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Trust God, and in the end, it will be all right.
The Rev. Herb Beyer is pastor of Tri-County Cooperative Ministries, ELCA.