Pastor Thom's Message Blog

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Pastor Thom Bryant

Connecting - November 2019



November can be such a bittersweet time. While the days are getting much colder and shorter, there is so much to do and enjoy. It's harvest season for our hunters and farmers, holidays and festivals are right around the corner, and if you are like me… snow could fly and stick around at any time! Go ahead... make that groan and roll those eyes... it is still going to snow and I LOVE IT!!!
The truth is that this can also be a very low and/or extremely stressful time for so many because of any of those things I just mentioned. Seasonal Depression, family dynamics, experiences of loss, access to proper resources, weather, and social expectations can leave many of us in absolute dread of this time of year. I have to openly admit that I can (and often do) fall prey to the weight of those issues in my own life this time of year. While they no longer completely crush me as they once did, I know those feelings all too well and how much strength it sometimes takes just to get through a day.
As real as those feelings and struggles are, I've found that they no longer have the power they once did. I've learned that it takes a very individual and personal combination of help, challenge, and understanding for each person to get to that place. One thing that has been proven to me over and over again, though, is that no one ever gets there alone. It is a very individual journey that takes a lot of personal work and desire to achieve, but there is always a community of others helping to achieve those milestones.
That is why church matters to me so much. It is not just a thing we "play" or "go to" on Sunday mornings. It is a community of diverse people with diverse experiences and gifts that create a real place for real people to gather together, grow together, and go together. We accept each other in the greatest love of God's grace, and in doing that, we begin to accept ourselves the same way.
It is simple and complicated, social and personal, bold and nuanced, comforting and challenging, encouraging and humbling. It is also responsible for all of the most fun and memorable moments of my life. That's what makes me so annoyingly goofy on the great days and how I get out of bed on the heavy days. I have learned that those real feelings are temporary and usually conditional upon that day's perspective.

I've learned in my own way and time what I hope for everyone to one day realize: Regardless of season, situation, stress, or surroundings that influence our moods, motivations, and mentalities, the best of it is... God is with US! With that perspective, those temporary and conditional feelings wash right away in a flood of eternal and unconditional love, leading to celebrations and thanksgivings regardless of what date the calendar might read.