Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
There’s a fable that comes from the Jewish tradition. It’s the story of a man who left his own home to seek the great city of light far away. He walked and walked all day. Just before sunset, he stopped and found a likely place to camp for the night. Before going to bed, he carefully placed his shoes on the ground, facing in the direction he was headed. That way, he figured, he would set out in the right direction the next morning.
In the middle of the night, something happened. A stranger came along and turned the man’s shoes around. In the morning he awoke, put on his shoes and set out on his journey again. Thinking he was headed for the city of light, he walked and walked all day. Just before sunset, he looked down the road and saw a city that looked rather familiar to him. He entered through the city gate, and found a neighborhood that also looked rather familiar to him. He entered the neighborhood, and came to a house that looked rather familiar to him. He entered into the house. And there he lived happily ever after.
The journey of faith is always a journey homeward to the love of God. God is crazy, madly, deeply in love with you and with me and with all of God’s children. God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it, nothing you can do to make God love you more, and nothing you can do to make God love you less. God loves you and came to demonstrate this love in Jesus Christ. We can make all the resolutions we want but if we don’t know how much God loves us, nothing will change. There is nothing we can do to make God love us, but there is something we can do in response to this amazing love: We can resolve to accept and live in that love. It’s not complicated; it sounds simple right? It is simple, but it is never easy!
Father Richard Rohr puts it this way. “Your life is not about you; you are about life! Life, your life, all life, the one life that we all share, is going somewhere and somewhere good,” he says. “ …Our goal is to intentionally participate in this mystery of what has always been our true self. …This one life, this true self that lasts forever, is love (1 Corinthians 13:8, 13). And we practice for it by being kind to everyone now.” (https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations, Jan 3, 2014) (Richard Rohr, 2014)
Jesus said it this way: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
I want to encourage you and invite you to stop and think about where you are in your journey? Have you wandered away from home? Do you know God loves you? If you do, are you living out of that love in partnership with Jesus, building God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven?
In my journey I believe two things to be true: First, it doesn’t matter where I worship. What matters is who I worship, and second, it doesn’t matter where I serve. It only matters whom I serve.
It is an honor and blessing to serve our Lord with this community. I look forward to seeing how God will move in us and through us as we seek to serve him. There are too many people in Tooele County who still do not know God loves them. We have work to do!
I pray that the Holy God of Christmas and every day, keep the joy of your coming in our hearts as we move beyond the stable and into the world. May the joy of giving that has filled our hearts this Christmas season move us to share our life with love and devotion to you.
Remind us that we can’t stay by the manger, but must move back into a world where children are still in danger and families still flee as refugees from persecution and injustice. Use us to bring your compassion and grace to those who suffer and who live on the margins. We pray this in the holy name of Christ, our Savior and Redeemer! Amen. (Matthew 2:13-23.)
Rev. Paulsen is pastor at Tooele United Methodist Church.