This Sunday is Pastry with the Pastor at http://www.trinitylafayette.org It’s an event designed for people who are new to Trinity, new to church, want to find ways to engage, or just have questions.
Here at Trinity, I’ve begun to open these events with the second verse from Ecclesiastes which, in English, often reads, “Vanity of vanities… All is vanity.” In English, that might seem like an odd choice. But it is – as sometimes occurs with scripture – just a victim of bad translation. The Hebrew word there is hebel. It’s a word that can mean a puff of air, a breath, or a vapor. With those words, the writer reminds us that life and the things of this world can be fleeting. Seasons come and go; flowers grow, blossom, and wither.
But there’s more to it than that. Every day, more times than we can count, we breathe in and breathe out. And, unless we have a medical condition, we generally don’t even think about it. Yet, without that constant, automatic exchange of oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, our lives would end. So the fact that each breath is fleeting doesn’t diminish its value. In fact, things like deep breathing can lower blood pressure, anxiety, and provide a host of long-term health benefits.
I pastor in a university community in a medium-sized city. A big adjustment has been that people come and go on a pretty frequent basis. Sometimes, it’s professionally discouraging and personally sad. Just this summer, we lost an amazing young couple, Evan and Morgan, after she completed her Masters. They moved to Alaska, a time of adventure in their lives. We all rejoiced at their new adventure, but also grieved that they are no longer with us on a regular basis. They served in so many ways and brought joy and energy to every situation.
Sometimes people are reluctant to plug in to a church because they’re not sure they’re ready to become members; they’re not sure it’s the “right” church for them; they’re not sure they want to be tied down or make a commitment; they don’t expect to be around for long. That’s when I think of that word hebel. Just because something – or someone! – is fleeting does not diminish their value and their worth. My church will be forever richer and blessed for the 20+ months Morgan and Evan spent with us.
We all have a chance to offer our best to one another, every day, right where we are. If we waste time worrying about how long we’ll be in one place, how much we want to commit, how hard it will be to break away, etc., we’ll never get around to doing anything.
Is there a place in your life where you’re hanging back, afraid to jump in and commit? Just give it a try. Life really is too short to hold back on offering our best to others in whatever time and space we share with them.
Interested in finding ways to serve others through the ministries and events at Trinity? Join us for Pastry with the Pastor this Sunday, October 6, at 9:15 a.m. in the church’s GREAT Room.