Pastor’s Corner, April 8, 2022

Today’s message is from Pastor Pam Sutherland of the St. Paul United Methodist Church & Fort Gibson United Methodist Church.

Last Saturday I participated in the Town of St. Paul’s Murder Mystery Progressive Dinner. At each stop an actor would relate their perspective about the events on the night of the “murder” and from what they said and other hints provided, we had to try to solve the mystery. It wasn’t easy to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, each of us had our own perspective on what may have happened and why on the night in question. Sadly, my team did not solve the mystery correctly.

Perspective. It’s the way we look at things, our attitude toward something, how we choose to view a particular situation. Each of us can perceive a situation differently even when we see and hear the same thing.

The Apostle Paul had an interesting perspective as he sat in a Roman prison. In Philippians 4:4 he wrote, “rejoice in the Lord always.” In fact, he repeated that admonition for emphasis – “again I say rejoice!” Faced with an unknown and scary future, Paul wrote about rejoicing! I doubt he was particularly glad about his situation, but because of his relationship with Jesus, because of what Jesus had done for him, because he knew God was still at work, still had a plan, Paul could rejoice in the Lord! 

Next week we will observe the day we call “Holy Thursday” where we commemorate the last meal Jesus shared with His disciples, and recall the events that took place that final night of Jesus’s life on earth – the betrayal, the desertion, the humiliation, the crucifixion.  Then on Friday we will remember His sacrifice for us on the cross.

As those events unfolded, the perspective of the disciples surely must have been “it’s over”. All their hopes and dreams for their Messiah to overthrow Roman rule and set up the new Kingdom were dashed. They faced a scary and unknown future. I can only imagine what their thoughts and feelings were that night and I wonder if they were anything like the thoughts and feelings we have about what the future holds for us. 

The perspective of the religious leaders who had been worried about their own future if Jesus tried to overthrow Roman rule, was most likely “good, it’s over – we will finally be finished with this trouble-maker who is jeopardizing our future.”

But there was another perspective that night – that of Jesus. Knowing what He was about to endure, agonizing in His humanity over the suffering that was to come, knowing that He could back out at any time, He carried out the plan. The plan that would save the world. In the midst of His pain and suffering, He chose joy.

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus endured the suffering because He was focused on the joy of carrying out the plan of redeeming His beloved creation. We can choose joy in the midst of our own trials and suffering, knowing that Jesus is still carrying out the plan, still saving those who put their trust in Him, still redeeming broken humanity and still making intercession for you and me. (Hebrews 7:25) 

The Apostle Paul goes on to say in Philippians 4 that we should not be anxious – worried and upset – about anything, and to pray about everything with thanksgiving. When we do that, the peace of God – a peace we can’t even understand – will guard our hearts and minds [from the negative, anxious thoughts and perspectives] in Christ Jesus. There is no safer place to be in a storm of uncertainty than in Chrst Jesus.

Pastor Pam

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