For the Living of These Days—A Word from Carol Harston

This week, we enter into a new season of courage: the courage to cherish. Gratitude is in the air as the leaves change, Thanksgiving approaches, and the holiday preparations begin. Now is the time to hold dear all the gifts that make an impact upon you—these gifts that reveal a glimpse of the eternal nature of our God. But why do we need courage to cherish? What is risky about feeling gratitude? I would argue that true cherishing requires courage because it reorients our posture. Regardless of our efforts, we cannot earn, manage, or make permanent the gifts in our life (at least the gifts that we truly seek). It takes courage to cherish the beauty in life without turning it into an idol. It takes courage to cherish a relationship in such a way that we allow, and even encourage, the other person to shift through the seasons. It takes courage to cherish the people, places, and seasons in this unfinished, transient, mortal life we lead.

This season, we invite you to ask God for courage that you might hold the realities before you loosely. Change is constant. But when we cherish the gift within the present moment, the person before us, and the place where we stand, we locate the eternal gift within a temporary world. I have some homework for you. From now until Advent begins, do some reflecting. Who are the people who you cherish? What is it about them that you hold dear the most? I will go first. This Tuesday, I pause and give thanks for the people who make up Highland’s church staff. Specifically, I cherish…

  • Andria’s faithful devotion to keeping our people informed, organized, and followed through each changing season of Highland’s life.
  • Austin’s beautiful gifts which transform our sanctuary each week with music that warms the heart and awakens the soul.
  • Deb’s commitment to walk each staff person, ministry group, Finance Ministry Group members, and individual giver through the journey of sharing our resources to the betterment of the church and the world just beyond its doors.
  • Frank and Jerre’s deep care and sense of responsibility for our building and for all those who walk into it.
  • Fred’s faithful witness to the Friday Church community through music, word, and steadfast presence.
  • Jim’s faithful presence in our pulpit as he offers words of wisdom and a steady voice as a gift to the church he loves.
  • Kathy’s imagination which brings worship to life each week with an innovative blend of tradition and creativity.
  • Lauren B’s meticulous care for our volunteers and willingness to jump back into our office life.
  • Lauren JM’s vivid dreams for a just world and determined passion for the church to be the light of the world.
  • Linda’s devoted work as she manages all the resources and dedicated volunteers that make space for the young ones in our church to delight, learn, and be loved.
  • Perry’s deep love for marginalized people and his persistent attempts to bring their troubles to the forefront of our minds.
  • Renee’s steadfast advocacy for those who need more time, extra help, and our greatest patience.
  • Walter’s calm and cheerful disposition as he tends to our sacred space so that it is ready for you to come just as you are.

Even as I compose this list, I cannot help but pause before I end to note our recently departed staff whose legacy remains alive and working in our midst. I cherish Joe’s prophetic witness that opened our doors to all and his deep devotion to the faithful in the pew and the seekers reading the newspaper looking for another way to be in the world. I cherish Nina’s pastoral presence and persistent nudging that regularly invited all to become more engaged in the work of Love at the corner of Grinstead and Cherokee.

Who do you cherish? How does cherishing these people change who you are? What courage is born within you when you pause to cherish the season you find yourself? What is God leading you to do in response to this?

For the living of these days, grant us wisdom and grant us courage!