Back in 1994 when I served as a volunteer with the Ecumenical Community of Taizé in Burgundy, France, the founder of the community gave me a birthday present. It was a copy of an ancient Egyptian icon commonly called “Jesus and his friend.” [The original is actually from the 8th century in and depicts Christ and Abba (Abbot) Mena (285-309 AD). It currently hangs in the Louvre in Paris.] As people gaze upon this icon during prayer and meditation, they often imagine, as I do, this friendly looking Jesus with his arm around them, talking about the cares of the day or hopes for the future. Walking together, the saint and Jesus seem to be moving toward the future, a future filled with hope.
After ten years serving at Messiah (and with my birthday just ahead), I’ve been thinking about this image a lot. I’m reminded to look for where Jesus has been walking with me and how, and the answers so often include you. We have been through many challenges together: lean economic times, personal loses and grief, even my own cancer diagnosis. Your prayers and support, your gifts of time, treasure and talent, have helped me and the congregation walk on right through these times. You have helped me see the light of Christ at work, and as I walk, even on darker days, I can find the peace and joy Christ promises.
What’s the future to bring? We are celebrating our 50 years as a congregation in 2018, so that is an appropriate question. Yet, I don’t fully know the answer any more than you – at least not in any detail or with certainty. What I do know is that I love you, and I give thanks to God for you. I appreciate your walking with Kristine and I through these ten years and toward the future. Through you and your shared love, Christ is seen and made known. I trust that whatever happens in the future, Jesus will walk on with us, faithfully loving us all the way. Each of us (and our congregation as a whole) will get to where we need to be. It may not always be easy, but our path will be blessed.
On behalf of Kristine and I, thank you for the many gifts and letters during the recent pastor appreciation month. It was quite uplifting and much appreciated. I also especially wish to thank Cheryl Griffis and Sally Bennett for heading up the 10X50=500 celebration and all those who have been coming together to make this day special. I look forward to rejoicing with you on December 3rd and throughout our Advent and Christmas season ahead.
Merry Christmas and a blessed New year to you all!
Originally published in Messiah Lutheran’s newsletter, The Messenger (December 2017/January 2018 edition).
© 2017 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.