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by Dan Peeler
Minister for Children and Families

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 1 Peter 4.7-9

A Word of Hope
Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve; a time when we reflect on the end of yet another twelve months of our lives and a good time to remember the words if 1 Peter. The writer of the letter we call 1 Peter was a very realistic individual. Written near the end of the first century either by the Apostle Peter or, more likely, by one of his followers, the brief note was sent from Rome to various church leaders in Asia Minor in order to instruct and encourage them in the last days. But it’s almost 2,000 years later and the world still hasn’t ended. What happened?

I believe the writer was realistic because he or she could look around and clearly see the world they had always known swiftly coming to a close. The glorious temple of Jerusalem was little more than a pile of broken stones with a familiar worship system buried under it. Followers of the new Christian cult of Judaism had scattered all around the Mediterranean and were in jeopardy from all sides, hated by former friends and new enemies alike. Their world was literally ending.

There are interpreters today who will tell you that Peter was actually referring to the “real” end times that our own generation will face. In a way, they’re right. In my own life, I have witnessed the end of all things several times; new technologies becoming old, old faith systems evolving into new ones, expanded views of what “loving my neighbor” really implies, and discovering that the ultimate truth about relationships, the world, the economy or anything else is seldom found through electronic media.

The real world view outlined in 1 Peter addresses the multitude of endings and beginnings we have always faced and always will. The letter’s good advice is the part that will grow old and never end.

May every ending in our lives signal a new beginning in our commitments to prayer, love for others, hospitality, and good use of our gifts in service through the grace of God. Amen.

But if you remain silent, who can condemn you? If you hide your face, who can see you? Job 34.29

A Word of Hope
Have you finished your costume yet? Halloween is just two days away and the parties have already begun. Do you ever wonder why so many of us go to extremes every year to dress ourselves or our children as super heroes, grotesque movie monsters or even scarier politicians? The “Hallow” in “Halloween” means “holy”, so how does all this fuss relate to a Holy Evening? The first Hallow-e’en costume parties originated in the Middle Ages, but they were far from parties as we know the term.

European villagers were obsessed with possession in those dismal times of plagues and poverty. Since demonic influence and possession seemed to them to be the most logical and probable cause for all their woes, the idea came about that dressing up in frightening-looking outfits and making lots of noise was the best course to frighten the demons away. The practice was encouraged by the church leaders who also told them that All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before the venerated Feast of All Saints, was the night the spirits of evil were at their most active level, doing whatever was necessary to snatch people’s very souls and thoroughly defile the upcoming worship events. So, everyone put on their masks and rattled their chains to literally scare the devil out of each other and send the demons back to the pits where they belonged.

This is not likely the reason you or some of your friends might be wearing a costume today, but it is not surprising that at this time of year much of the LGBTQ community eagerly embraces the opportunity to play dress up on the streets. Few believe in possession, but most have been touched by oppression. Many are still forced to wear a mask in their work or worship places year round. On this night, wearing a mask is their own choice, not somebody else’s. They are freed from playground mentality rules such as “don’t ask, don’t tell” to noisily proclaim their real identities and maybe drive out a few of their own demons of guilt and shame. And if that is the case, maybe it’s a holy evening after all.

Help us to know that we are all hallow in your sight.

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

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