Monday, November 29, 2010

Thoughts Flying Through My Brain

Hopefully, writing them down will help them to allow me to go to sleep.

First off,   Happy 5th Anniversary to Nick!  I love you and don't know why you put up with me and my neurotic ways!

Two:  Anyone want a cat?  We inherited a cat.  This cat is younger than the one that we previously had and is terrorizing the older cat.  The older cat is bigger, but wimpier than the new cat, so the new cat just reads the older one the riot act.  We had a urine "oops" previously, and today we found a mound of turds on the bed.  (The new one had the old one trapped in the litter box a week or so ago.  I am afraid the older on is scared to use the box.)

Three:  The congregation keeps being bipolar.  Things are going great in many aspects.  We made it through the scheduling conflict with little ramifications, but what I had predicted has come to pass:  The husband of the former secretary (the one who is on the council) has decided to become passive aggressive.  He started to ask if I had made any phone calls to former congregants and kept quoting from "the contract" about a mutual ministry review.  He was informed that a mutual ministry review was not a job evaluation of Fr. Ben.  I also, not so subtly informed him that he may want to be careful of quoting the contract.

As it stands, I am only contracted to work Wed, Wed Night, Thurs, and Sunday.  As anyone in the church knows, I do not work those hours. I am also working Tuesday, Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sunday afternoons.  I am also taking a defacto pay cut in that I am getting milage and other expenses cut.  If people want to get picky about the contract, they will end up on the short end of the stick.

I feel as if people in the congregation see me as the enemy.  Beware false gods, but be even more aware of false devils!  The congregation has functioned with such loose (or maybe even non-existent) boundries that any boundries feel restrictive.  I know I have to just stand firm and wait it out.

Oh, bright comment of the day:  Now that all of the brush is gone [and you can now see the church from the road!] we are more likely to be robbed.  (IDK, I think better visibility from the road should make us LESS likely to be robbed.  But what do I know?)

Happy Advent to all!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

WAKE UP! Advent 1A

Advent 1 Year A   November 28, 2010     Matthew 24:36-44  
The Rev. Benton Quest

Happy New Year!

Some may think I am about a month early, but today we celebrate the beginning of a new church year. With a new church year comes a new sense of life and vitality that change often brings. And with this change we once again stretch and look at our life anew.

So often in our lives we can get lulled into a kind of walking sleep. We get up in the morning, we go about our daily lives, and we go to bed at night. That day is gone, never to be lived again. And then, again the next morning, we get up, we go about our daily lives, and we go to bed at night. Before we know it, weeks have passed and we really have nothing to show for it, no memories to reflect back upon. We have been living life, but we can’t remember anything about it. We have been going through life in a kind of sleep.

Well, that kind of thing could happen with the church year, too. We come in, we say the familiar prayers, we hear the familiar stories, we see the familiar people… And granted, there is a certain comfort in all of this; but there is also the potential that we can get to the point where our worship life becomes another type of walking sleep. We have been doing it; we just can’t remember anything about it. It is for this reason that we have the various seasons in the church year. We have the different seasons to wake us up and help us to see our worship and the whole world anew. So you see, we changed the color of the paraments on the altar, we added the Advent wreath, and we have changed the prayers we use during the service. All of this to help us to remember that time has passed and to keep us from being lulled into sleep.

So, I guess I could have said, “Wake up!” instead of “Happy New Year.” I could have, but you all would have probably thought I was being rude. However, with the start of this new church year, we do get a wake-up call. As we begin the season of Advent, I won’t be the one telling you to wake up, in the gospel, we hear Jesus himself telling his followers, which includes all of us here, to keep awake.

In the gospel reading, Jesus is telling us the importance of keeping awake. When we hear this, we must realize that this is more than just being coherent, keeping awake is maintaining an awareness of those people and things that surround us.

Jesus first starts by telling his disciples that no one knows the day or hour of the Lord’s coming. NO ONE. Not even the son – Jesus himself – knows this. Only the Father knows. I find it interesting that even though Jesus tells us that no one knows the date, so many people spend so much time trying to figure the day and time out. What is especially interesting are the people who will state, “Well, we may not be able to know the day and hour, but at least we can figure out the month and year!” Why people are so interested in knowing the exact time eludes me. My only guess is if we know, we don’t have to be awake. We can sleep until that moment and then wake up when the time arrives. Kind of like the bumper sticker that says, “Jesus is coming back, look busy!” But Jesus doesn’t want us to sleep; he wants us to be awake and alert. He wants us ready for action.

Jesus again reinforces that no one would know the day or hour by citing an example from the time of Noah. Jesus tells the disciples that as the great flood approached, the people had no idea their own demise was near. As Jesus says, “they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.” So, again, what Jesus is saying is that planning for the coming of the Lord is a waste of time.

Since we are not actively planning for the Lord’s coming, that doesn’t mean we get to kick back and do nothing. Just because we do not know the day or hour that does not mean that we can just slide through. Just because we can’t know the details, doesn’t mean that we should be spending our lives in a state of walking sleep, Jesus wants more of his disciples. It is here that he brings in a few other examples.

In his examples, Jesus talks about people out doing things, people going about their daily lives. These people are not waiting in a cave in anticipation of the Lord’s return; they are out in the field and are grinding meal. He does not talk about people just sitting around waiting for something to happen. These people are active.

It is while these activities are occurring that some are taken, and some are left behind. Now, we might want to ask how the choice was made as to those who were taken? Unfortunately, we are not given the details, but Jesus does give us another example right after, which we can assume is meant to help us understand.

Right after the disappearing people, Jesus tells about the thief in the night and the homeowner who was asleep. Since the homeowner was asleep, the thief was able to steal the owner’s property. But if the owner had been awake, the thief would not have succeeded. So by giving us this example, we can assume that in the previous examples, the ones who were taken were the ones who were awake and those who were left were those who had fallen asleep under the spell of the world. And finally make sure everyone gets it, Jesus reiterates that we need to be awake, alert, and ready because the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour.

What Jesus is telling us, then, is that we are to live our lives being alert and ready. We are not to let the routines of the world lull us into sleep. We are to wait for the return of the Lord but we are not to just sit there and let the world pass us by. We are to live in the tension that the advent of Christ’s return brings.

One of my seminary professors had a great way of explaining this tension: He would say, “Could Jesus return today? Yes.” Then he would say, “Am I counting on it? No.” It is true, Jesus could return at any time. We can look for signs, we can try to figure out dates, but we are told that no one knows the hour of the Lord’s return. So the message Jesus has for us is that we should live in the expectation of his return but also realize that we have been given a life to live, here and now. We need to live our lives but we also need to live with the awareness that Christ could return, and so therefore, we can’t just go through our lives, asleep! We need to get busy!

I think there are many things that stop us from being busy for Christ. We have jobs, families, and commitments. We get caught up in the trials of life. These trials can be thought of as a darkness in our lives, a darkness where, if we are not careful, we can get lost. What is sad is that when we get lost, we forget that we have been given a light to lead us. We have the example of God incarnate, God with Us. We don’t need to fumble around in the dark when we have the light of Christ to lead us.

This awareness of Christ’s presence in our lives gives us a new way of living life and a new way approaching the tasks in our lives. Christ is the presence that opens our eyes to the true potential of life.

Granted, we do not know when Jesus will return, but there is something else we cannot know, we cannot know when we will make our own personal return to Christ. We usually do not like to think about that too much, but we will each have our own “thief in the night” moment. And try as we might, we do not know the day or hour of our death. When this time comes, will we have our house in order? Will we be ready to move on to the heavenly kingdom?

Part of Jesus’ call to “keep awake” is for us to be aware of our relationships, not only with God but also with those around us. As we approach the day we celebrate Christ’s birth, we are to remember the great sacrifice that was made for us in that act of God becoming human. As we look to Jesus’ birth, we can also be thankful for his saving death and resurrection. And we needn’t be afraid of the thief in the night, because we know that we have great love of God to lead us into the night and to keep us safe.

So, Happy New Year! Happy Advent! And Good Morning! As we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth, I ask you each to make a New Year’s resolution: Resolve to approach each day as a gift and each person as a treasure. Resolve to see the light of Christ in everyone you meet and to see Christ’s light in yourself also! Resolve to dream the dream God has for us! Dream of a world where Christ love fills our community. If we are not dreaming, then we are just sleeping. Christ calls us out of our sleep! And finally, resolve to leave behind the dark and live in the wondrous light that has been given to us through that small child in a manger and the miraculous man he became.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Growing old is manditory, growing up is optional...

Some people (some?) are just children walking around in adult suits.

First off, things in the congregation are going MUCH better.  I don't know if that is the effect of celexa or if things are changing; either way, life in the congregation has been pretty good.


I have been having some run-ins with the former secretary.  She decided to tell me that she did not like where I moved the stained glass in the sactuary.  That is fine,she does not have to like it, that still does not mean I am going to move it.  (I also need to say that she may have beenin church 6 Sundays since I have been here.  She is never in church so why should this bother her?)  She was NOT pleased to hear that. 

Well, on Sunday, I get an e-mail informing me of a "Beading Workshop" taking place at the church in a few weeks.  This was the first time I ever heard of this.  I asked the congregational Pres if he knew nything about it.  No, he did not.  I asked if he approved the use of the building?  Again, no.  The event was written on the calendar and that was assumed to be ok.  (Wanna guess who had decided to hold this little workshop?  Yep!  The Former Secretary!)

Then when I said that it was not an approved event, I got the "well, we'll just cancel then.  We thought we were doing something good."  (Overtones of "I'll take my ball and go home.)  I explained that I was pleased by the event, I just didn't like the route of obtaining use of the building.  To which I heard, "I didn't think we needed permission to use our building." 

Did I mention when all the planning for this event was going on, I and the President were sitting at various tables in the same hall as the people planning the thing?  And all they had to do was ask either one of us if there was a conflict?

Oy vey.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thanks for the Troubles, Jesus. Pentecost 25 Proper 28C

Proper 28C                Luke 21:5-19                    Nov. 14, 2010             The Rev. Benton Quest

I was watching a show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network a while ago. I don’t know if you are familiar with TBN but it is the channel that has all the preachers on it. Now I need to tell you, I normally don’t make it a habit of watching TBN, but when I watched, they were having their fundraising week. Well, the preaching was quite unbelievable. These folks were preaching in a manner that I don’t think I will ever accomplish! Maybe you don’t want me to accomplish this style!! Well, I am not going to talk about the preaching style. What I wish to discuss is the content of the preaching.

I will admit that I didn’t hear the entire sermon, but what I did hear I found upsetting. It seems that this preacher was talking about how all the people in a certain congregation had gone from destitution to affluence. How suddenly the parking lot was beginning to fill with Cadillacs and Lincolns. How people have gone from having little money to having money to spare. The preacher was talking about how by just believing in Jesus, the people became wealthy.

Now this sounds like a good message. I bet if we went out and guaranteed that by coming to St. Swithin's, people would become rich, we would have people knocking down our doors! We would all like to hear that by simply going to church we could all make whole lot of money. Well, most of us would probably like to hear that message. Yet, for how good a message that would be to hear, there is a problem with that message. There is an underlying message to what the preacher was saying. What the preacher was saying is that we should believe in Jesus for the things that we can receive. What he was saying is that being a Christian is like having a winning lottery ticket. If we believe enough in Jesus then we will have big cars, big houses, abundant health, and lots and lots of cash.

So very often this is the message we hear when people talk about Christianity. The message we get is if we only follow Jesus our life will be so much better. If we only follow Jesus our life will be so much easier. It makes sense, doesn’t it? We don’t follow Christ and our life is a mess because of sin. We follow Christ, He forgives our sins, and our lives are much better because we are making Christ happy and he wants to give us stuff. Sounds good to me!

In seminary we had a name for this type of belief. The belief that because we believe then everything will be wonderful is known as a Theology of Glory. A Theology of Glory is pretty enticing. We believe in Christ and Christ gives us exactly what we want. And know what? A Theology of Glory works! It works until your wife gets cancer or your husband is in an accident or large buildings collapse killing thousands of people or jet engines self-destruct. When the “bad” things in life happen, then the Theology of Glory leaves us standing in the smoke and dust asking, “What happened?”

But Jesus doesn’t teach a theology of Glory. He teaches what Martin Luther called a Theology of the Cross. A Theology of the Cross has to do with learning from our mistakes and holding to our convictions. In the gospel reading for today, Jesus talks about being arrested and persecuted. Those who follow Jesus are going to be arrested and persecuted. Through their association with Jesus, the disciples lives are going to be come difficult and complicated. They probably will be taken to jail, not to the new car show room.

When I read these scriptures, I am confused as to how to respond. I don’t want to be arrested! I don’t want to have to go to the jail and visit with you when you get arrested! I don’t want to end up in jail myself! Just think about the evangelism campaign we could have! “Join St. Swithin's! A welcoming place where you can get your very own serial number! Free mug shot with every membership!” We won’t be able to keep the people out!

Why does Jesus do that? Why does Jesus promise all of these horrible things for his followers? It really is not a good way to get follower and believers. I think you will agree with me that we would much rather hear about how following Jesus would bring us a life of leisure. We don’t want to hear that through following Jesus our life is going to be more difficult. But Jesus doesn’t let us off. He tells us that we need to be prepared to be rejected by the world. We need to be ready to have the world not just passively ignore us but to actively persecute us.

Humm… I don’t like hearing this at all. And I would like to talk around these words. I would like to tell you that Jesus was just messing with our minds; that we really don’t have to go through all this suffering. But to tell you that would be to do Jesus a disservice.

Now one thing I want to make perfectly clear; Christ wants us to have the best life possible. Christ wants us to live a full and fulfilling life. We need to always remember this. Jesus is not telling us to follow him so that we will have trouble and pain. Jesus is telling us to follow him so that we can have the best life possible.

The way of following Christ is to pursue the things that are truly important in life. To follow Chris is to be fully involved in life. To follow Christ is to experience what is the most important in life.

What are the most important things in life? Is it most important to have things or to have friends? Is it more important to have the praise of everyone or to have the satisfaction of knowing that you did what was right? Is it more important to have the admiration of the masses or to have the love of God? It is nice to have things, praise, and the admiration of the masses, but it is more important to have the love of God. Like a good parent, Christ wants what is best for us. And just as with children, often what the parent knows is best may not always appear to the child to be the best. Also, what is the best may not be what is the easiest! If what was the best were also the easiest, then the new health plan would involve eating cookies and watching TV! Unfortunately, maintaining our health is a little harder. But in putting in the work, we get the benefits.

Our faith life is the same way. When we follow Jesus, we have to put in the work. This work helps us to live fulfilling lives. This work helps us to live a life that is rich and vibrant. A life in Christ is not dull and boring, no! It is full of energy, abundant energy! Life in Christ is not about judgment. It is about freedom!

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t want us to have an abundant life. If we have our fulfillment in God, then we don’t need to buy our fulfillment in the Martha Stewart collection. If we find our fulfillment in Christ, then we don’t need to worry about how others view us. If we have our fulfillment in Christ, we can move about life, experiencing what is best.

But it is this lack of worry about the world that will cause the world to rebel and causes the problems Jesus teaches about. There is a lot of pressure for us to define ourselves by the ways of the world. A lot of people have a lot resting on my desire for a new car or a new shirt or a new Wii. Advertising’s sole aim is to make me feel that my life is not worth living if I don’t own their product. Advertising’s sole aim is to make me (and you!) feel like we are less than the special creations created by God.

I have something to tell you! We are more than new Cadillacs! God gives us more than the purely material! We are the baptized children of God, heirs to the eternal reign! We are the redeemed! We have the promise of Immanuel, of God with us! God here and now! Soon we will come to the table and be fed and strengthened by Christ’s own body and blood. What greater gift can we receive?

It would be nice to have a Cadillac, or a Lincoln, or a 1976 tan Fiat Spider convertible with caramel leather interior. But to measure God’s goodness by purely tangible possessions is to limit our understanding of God. No, God comes to us in so many different ways. God comes to us in the laughter of children, in the coarse texture of a cat’s tongue, the sparkle in a loved ones eyes, the smell of freshly baked cookies, the feel of sheets fresh off the line, the feel of clothes still warm from the dryer, the sound of gentle rain on the roof, the smell of a fire on a cold evening, or the gentle brush of a finger on a cheek. Jesus is present in all of these. When we limit our concept of blessing to those things we can own, we limit God.

So as we approach this Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for the things in our lives, but let’s also be sure to give thanks for the multitude of small blessings in our lives and pray that God increases our awareness of these blessings. God promises us more than we can ever understand. It may not be what the world promises, but it will be so much better!

Friday, November 12, 2010


My church is right across the street from a high school.

I thought it would be great to offer my help to the school concerning a Gay/Stright Alliance or anything like that.  Let's face it, I am gay, I am a clergy person, (and a quite liberal clergy person at that!) and I have some backing in psychology.  Personally, this seems like a no-brainer! 

So I called the counseling department, twice, and left messages.  I heard nothing in return.

I called the principal's office and was given the name and phone of the GSA advisor.  I have heard nothing in return.

How hard is it to return a phone call?

Monday, November 08, 2010


I stole this from Lemuel, go show him some love!

20 years ago (08. Nov 1990)

1.) How old were you? 26
2.) Where did you go to school?  I was out in the working world with a BA in Psychology and Psychobiology
3.) Where did you work? I worked for a private Sheltered Workshop/Residential Center
4.) Where did you live? I lived in a little, tiny house (you could sit on the "throne" and lean your forehead on the wall in front of you!) in Grand Detour, IL.
5.) Where did you hang out? Anchovies
6.) Did you wear glasses? Nope!
7.) Who was your best friend? Anna
8.) How many tattoos did you have? None.

9.) How many piercings did you have? None.

10.) What car did you drive? A green Chevy Citation, not sure of the year.
11.) Had you been to a real party? Not really sure of this question, but I don't think so.
12.) Had your heart broken? Yes

13.) Single/Taken/Married/Divorced: Single

10 years ago (08. Nov 2000)

1.) How old were you? 36
2.) Where did you go to school? By this point I had finished my MA in Psychology and also had an M.Div.
3.) Where did you work? My first church in the middle of nowhere northern Michigan.
4.) Where did you live? circa 1970's Mobile Home
5.) Where did you hang out? Traverse City, MI
6.) Did you wear glasses? No.

7.) Who was your best friend? Still Anna
8.) How many tattoos did you have? One.

9.) How many piercings did you have? None.

10.) What car did you drive? A red 1999 Plymouth Duster.  I loved that car!
11.) Had you been to a real party? No.

12.) Had your heart broken? Yes, although I wasn't ready to admit it and he had no idea he did it!

13.) Single/Taken/Married/Divorced: Still single

5 years ago (08. Nov 2005)

1.) How old were you? 41
2.) Where did you go to school? Kind of all over the place.  Nothing like a formal degree, just tons of seminars.

3.) Where did you work? Bethlehem Lutheran Church
4.) Where did you live? In my house!  I loved that house!  It had gargoyles!  It had hardwood floors!  It was beautiful!
5.) Where did you hang out? I didn't really have a "hang out" place. 
6.) Did you wear glasses? Yes, just to read when I remembered them.

7.) Who were your best friends? Anna, still
8.) Who was your crush? Jim
9.) How many tattoos did you have? Two.

10.) How many piercings did you have? None.

11) What car did you drive? 2002 Chevy S-10 Pick-up. (I was so butch!)

12.) Had you had your heart broken? Not anything new.

13.) Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter: Single but moving toward Takn
14.) Any kids? Just two furballs who had been with me since 2000

Present (08. Nov 2010)

1.) How old are you? 46
2.) Where do you go to school? School of life.

3.) Where do you work? A small church in the 'burbs of Detroit.
4.) Where do you live? In an apartment complex with a view of the neighbors' buildings.
5.) Where do you hang out? Some area parks, a few sports bars, a few gay bars.
6.) Do you wear glasses? Still for reading when I remember where put them.

7.) Who are your best friends? Jim, Anna, Dennis

8.) Who is your crush? Crush, I am a fool for a nice body.  Love in my life?  Jim, of course!
9.) Do you talk to your old friends? Actually, more so now, due to Facebook.
10.) How many tattoo’s do have? None. Three.

11.) How many piercings do you have? One, though most people will never know this!
12.) What kind of car do you have? 2007 Ford Focus
13.) Has your heart been broken? No, and don't see one in the future, either.
14.) Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter? Cannot be married in this state.
15.) Any kids? Two furballs:  One that I have had since 2000 and one that we recently inherited. ("She goes to your house or heaven.)

Well, that was kind of fun!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Gifts and Promises Pentecost 24 Proper 27C

The folks we meet today in the gospel reading are interesting. We don’t see them a whole lot, matter of fact, this is one of the few places they are mentioned in the gospel of Luke. These guys were known as the Sadducees. They were a branch of the holymen of Biblical times. The odd thing about the Sadducees is that they only adhered to the first five books of what we would call the Old Testament. Now in these five books, there is no mention of resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, that is what made them sad, you see?

But even though they did not believe in the resurrection, they did have a deep and abiding faith. They believed that they were to keep the laws of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and that they would live on throughout the thoughts and memories of those who came after them. So there was a “form” of living on after death, but not the bodily resurrection that we currently associate with Christianity.

But I have a question for you to think about: Why were the Sadducees so devout? They devoted their life to God, but they were not promised anything in return. In their theology, when they died, that was the end of it all. So if they were not promised eternal paradise, why be devout? If you believed that there was no heaven, would you be a believer or would you just go out and live for the moment?

So often we get caught up in the whole Santa model of God; you know, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!” We MUST be good, because if we aren’t, then we will not get our presents, I mean, eternal life. We may not want to come out and say it, but many of us have this kind of understanding of God lurking at some level.

And it is this God as Santa theology, or maybe we could call it “God-Will-Squash-You-If-You-Don’t-Behave” theology, that runs throughout the story of Job. There is the understanding among Job’s friends that God is just waiting to smash Job under God’s thumb the moment Job does something wrong. And the reason Job is suffering is because Job must have done something wrong.

Just a reminder, Job was a righteous man who was suddenly afflicted with all kinds of hardships from having his family die to having sores appear all over his body. In the story, we are told that Job did nothing to earn these afflictions; we are told that they were given to him by Satan to see if he would curse God. And also in the story, we are told that Job has three “friends” who come to try to convince Job that he needs to repent from his sins so that he might get back into God’s good graces and get all these bad things taken from him.

I often wonder how I would do in a situation like that. Would I just give up on God and decide to just do whatever? Would I curse God and decide it was not worth it? I would hope not. I would hope that I would remain faithful even in the face of tragedy. And I hope that I would remain faithful even if eternal life was not a promise. I would hope that the gift of life and the beauty of the earth and people that surround me would be enough to move me to worship.

You see, somewhere we have acquired the idea that there is some kind of contract between equals that exists between us and God. We do good things, and God gives us good things. We worship God and God lifts us up into Heaven. God needs us, and in return, God makes our lives easier.

But it is this kind of thought that takes away our awe and respect for God. As cold as this may sound, God doesn’t need us. God would still be God even if we totally ignored God. This is the harsh reality, (at least for our human egos!) God doesn’t “benefit” from being in a relationship with us! God is no farther ahead with us nor is God any farther behind without us. Again, that is harsh, but that is the truth: God is God and we aren’t.

But when we come to the realization that God doesn’t owe us anything, we begin to realize just how great God is! It is only then that we realize how extravagant God is! God doesn’t have to give us anything, and still, God gives us a beautiful world, magnificent opportunities, and incredible people. God gives us challenges, pleasures, and experiences. God places these things into our lives, not because God owes us anything, God places these things into our lives because God loves us! Pure and simple, God Loves Us!

And for all the wonders that God has given us in our lives, even if we were to worship God constantly, we could never repay what God has given. Just giving our worship to God for the wonders that we have experienced in this day to this point could consume our lives. And even with that, God continues to bless us. Even if we never say “Thanks,” God continues to bless us. Even without the promise of eternal life, we would be eternally indebted to God.

This is what Job understood. This is what the Sadducees understood. This is what Job’s friends didn’t understand; and this is what we so often forget.

But in Christ coming to Earth, it doesn’t end here! In the person of Christ, we HAVE the promise of resurrection! We have what the Sadducees could only dream of! Not only do we have the gift of life, the gift of love, the gift of possibilities in our lives here and now, but we also have the gift and the promise of eternal life in the resurrection! This is the great gift God has given us. Not only do we have the promise of eternal life to look forward to, but we have the wonder of life in the here and now to enjoy and to revel in.

Yes, we should be like the Job and know we are redeemed even when our things appear to be falling apart. And yes, we should be like the Sadducees and be able to devoutly worship, even without the promise of eternal life. We should be able to do this, but if we can’t we still have a God who loves us. We still have a God who gives us life and beauty. We still have a God who promises us more than we could ever deserve! What a wonderful, marvelous gift. And so much more than we could ever expect from Santa Claus.