Pastor’s ponderings

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about my experience of my first pickleball tournament.  Today, I want to share with you another aspect of that same event and how I think it can also apply to church life and our individual lives as Christians.

            That day was cold and windy, so everyone was on their toes.  The ball that is used is a wiffle-type ball, full of holes.  So, the wind can very easily blow it around.  As such, many a shot would go awry, veering out of bounds, hitting the net, doing all sorts of things that it wouldn’t ordinarily do.  It could have been very frustrating.  Partners could have been very upset with one another for not winning a much needed point, or landing what should have been a very easy shot.  Yet, that wasn’t at all what happened.  Not once did I hear someone get upset with their partner.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.

            More often than not, there were words of encouragment outpouring from those on the courts, and on the sidelines.  “Great shot,” “Well done,” and “Keep up the good work” were phrases that were regularly heard.  In the midst of all the difficulty, in the midst of hard-fought competition, everyone was still taking the time to lift one another up, to encourage their partners and opponents, to keep the atmosphere extrememly enjoyable, even in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.

            These past couple of years have been hard on everyone, even in our churches. The world around us seems to be getting more and more difficult, more at odds with one another.  You can’t scroll down a social media feed, look at the local or national news, or even encounter people in stores, without seeing an overwhelming sense of negativity as one lashes out against another about how poorly they are doing at this or that.  How different would things be, if instead of complaining, we were encouraging, seeking out some positive way to lift up one another in the midst of our circumstances?

            Within the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we find: “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other…” (NRSV).  This was Paul’s charge to the church in Thessalonica, who was facing a variety of difficult circumstances, at odds with the world, and sometimes one another.  Perhaps this is our call today, especially during this season of Advent, the season of preparing for Jesus’ arrival.  How can you provide encouragement for someone today?  When you find yourself wanting to complain about someone or something, what good can you find to glorify in the midst of it all?

                                                            Always pondering,

                                                            Pastor Steve

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