PASTOR MATT'S MESSAGE

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DECEMBER 2016

Monthly Message From the Study of Donegal Presbyterian Church

“Something in the Air”

There is definitely something in the air.  I wish that I could say that it was the Christmas spirit.  However if anyone’s driving habits are an indication of one’s spirit, then it is not that of Christmas.  Yikes!  Sometimes it seems like I’m in a madhouse driving through a gauntlet of angry people.  Everywhere from shopping center parking lots to driving through our small towns and on the freeway, people have definitely picked up whatever it is, that’s in the air.  And it’s infectious.

The other day I was heading back to Elizabethtown from Lancaster.  As I was driving on US30 and PA283, I was instinctively in “buckle down and hold on” mode (because we all know how “angry” those roads can be).  Then somewhere between the Elizabethtown exits, I found myself passing a tow truck.  I glanced over and briefly met eyes with the driver.  When our eyes connected, he smiled at me and gave me a wave.  I instinctively smiled (I think), gave him a wave in return, and then got back to the road.
After a second back on the road, I guess I processed that little interaction.  I thought to myself, “What’s that guy’s story?”  Essentially, I wondered what was wrong with him.  Who waves to a complete stranger on the road?  Weird.  So I put my foot down on the pedal and sped off toward my PA743 exit, where I got off the freeway.

Then it really hit me.  What on earth was wrong with me?  Why did I just think that guy was the one who was weird?  He reached out in the midst of the chaos of the freeway in a gesture of warmth and friendliness.  He was a good neighbor in the midst of a flow of angry traffic.  And as much as I smiled (I think) and waved back, I ultimately rejected him.  Whatever it is that’s in the air, it had infected me.  I was no different than anyone else on the road.

This experience has obviously made me reflect a bit on my current “holiday” state.  In the midst of my reflection, I thought of what Paul says in Romans.  Most pointedly in chapter twelve, verse two, I believe he addresses this state of our human nature.  There he says:  “Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” (CEB)  If the rest of chapter twelve is any indication of what Paul is ultimately addressing in his command to not be conformed and to be transformed, then it is the idea of being called to a relationship.

As Christians we are brought into a relationship with God, through the faith of Jesus Christ.  By grace we are given Christ’s faith and enjoy God’s fellowship and love.  Yet often, we let the world get the best of us, and we do not reciprocate the grace afforded to us.  We shut ourselves off from the world, box ourselves into a nice comfortable compartment of steel on wheels, and look at someone strange as they smile at us through the window… probably all the while Christmas music plays on the radio.

We are indeed encouraged to reciprocate the grace given to us by Christ Jesus.  It is from the relationship that God holds with us that we are to hold relationships with those around us.  If the Christmas spirit is about anything, it should be the idea of being called to a relationship.  It very much should be about how we view the world through the lens of God’s grace and embrace one another because of it.  How wonderful would it be if whatever were in the air, would be something that does not separate us, but rather brings us together in God’s love.

As we continue onward toward Christmas, let’s not allow ourselves to be conformed to all the busyness and anger of the world.  Instead, let us be transformed by God’s grace and maybe give someone a smile, even if they happen to look at us as “weird.”  Let’s put God’s love back into the air.

Your brother in Christ,

Matt