The Wilderness and the Closing

At church this morning, the pastor talked about being faithful in the wilderness.  He appealed to the example of basketball superstar Jeremy Lin, who practiced continually even in a season of his life when he did not appear to be going anywhere, since he was sitting on the bench (both literally and figuratively).  The pastor also drew from the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in Mark 1:12-13, in which Jesus is with wild beasts, and yet the angels came to minister to him.  The pastor encouraged us not to listen to the discouraging wild beasts that put us down, but to allow God’s angels to minister to us in the wilderness.

I appreciated this message because it hit home for me, on so many levels.  But what I especially liked was the pastor’s quotation of how Fourth Presbyterian Church pastor John Buchanan closes his services (see here):

“Go into the world in peace and courage.
“Hold to the good. Honor all of God’s children.
“Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.”

I like this closing better than other closings I have heard.  Why?  In other closings, there is an emphasis on going out and serving others, and I wonder if I would be able to do that for the week, since I have challenges meeting other people and knowing how to serve those I do meet.  I am a shy introvert, and it’s also a struggle for me to determine when and whether people even want my help.

But I feel that, on some level, I can strive for and do the things that John Buchanan talks about: to cultivate peace and to encourage myself, to hold to the positive rather than the negative, to honor and to see every human being as valuable in the sight of God, to identify in my mind the things that draw me to God, to serve God in my own way while using my own talents, and to rejoice in the Holy Spirit’s role in my life.

Does any of this preclude serving others?  Absolutely not.  But this list enables me to cultivate an attitude that is conducive to service, so that I’m ready when opportunities to serve do arrive.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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