Dear Church family,
In the craziness of the presidential election, you may have missed the news this week. The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. Whether or not Dylan is your kind of music, at 75 years old, he has shaped the imaginations of more than one generation. The Nobel committee wrote that they place Dylan in the category of other famous writings that can be read but were originally meant to be sung: like Homer or Sappho of ancient Greece. We, of course, would also add the psalms to that list. Raised Jewish, Dylan had a dramatic conversation experience in the late 1970s and became a Christian. Throughout all of his long career, he has wrestled with issues of faith, doubt, justice and peace. These lyrics from his famous song “Rolling Stone” speak of the terrible sadness that comes when we realize this place and this life cannot be our true home:
You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?
How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
A complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?
In Romans 8 the Apostle Paul puts this feeling of emptiness and homesickness this way:
“We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now.”
How does it feel? How does it feel to realize that you don’t want to make a deal with your soul to fit into this world? Paul says it feels like giving birth. Our life in this world can hurt and it is difficult and we might even be asking for some pain medication with all that we are bearing at this point. But, Paul says, this is not a hurt with no purpose. This hurt leads to new birth in God’s kingdom. Even when we feel without direction and unknown to others—when we feel like a rolling stone that is on its own—we are not alone. And our pain is not without fruit.
In whatever you face today, I pray that you will not face it without hope and without the knowledge that God can work through even the pain of this life.
May Christ’s peace be with you today,