Jesus' Mercy Changes Me, We and the World

The River of Life

More Friday mornings than not over the last several years I have been involved in a Christian men’s fellowship mostly with men from GGCC.  We have studied the bible & Christian authors, engaged in community outreach, gone on fishing weekends and retreats.  Most recently we have been sharing the stories of our own individual spiritual journeys.  As you might imagine we all came to where we are today by following many different paths.

I recently listened to a Robcast titled “Notes on Floating.”  In the podcast Rob Bell makes an analogy between life and floating down a river in a perfectly sized and perfectly inflated inner tube.  The comparison may sound like a stretch but the only way to describe life is by analogy.  Big picture, Rob says sometimes we float alone, sometimes we hook up and float with someone else.  Sometimes we join a group, tie up and raft together for a while.  We may float together a long time or just for a short while.  We enjoy each other’s company, not fighting the current, we await the unknown vistas and adventures around the next bend.  People come and go.

I have heard similar river analogies applied to God.  “Go with the flow.”  “Don’t fight the current.”  Paula D’Arcy says, “God comes to us disguised as our life.”  The great Sufi Master Hafiz wrote “The voice of the river that has emptied into the Ocean, Now laughs and sings just like God.”

Now, all of us who have lived know that life is not always a gentle river on a beautiful day.  There are shoals, rocks and rapids.  There are waterfalls and storms.

As the final days of GGCC end and we talk about “Not an ending but a sending” it is important to recognize that while we are a people of hope we still must work through the grief.  Scripture and the story told of Holy Week give us another great analogy of suffering and hope.  Psalm 88:18 comes to mind when I think about grief, “You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.”  We must work through our grief to be able to grow and heal.  We come to know the Creator God by suffering together with our Creator over his creation.

And yet, we proclaim to be followers of Jesus.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of hope in reciting the mission statement of the Messiah:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Isaiah 61:1

I hope to see you out in the kingdom as we continue our work to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

It has been my honor to live and love and serve with you.  Amen.

Mark Autterson