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Pastor’s Corner Pastor Mark Keefer, pastor, Garwin United Methodist Church Gladbrook, Iowa

November 14, 2019
Northern-Sun Print
As I pen this, it is Veterans’ Day. A fresh blanket of snow has fallen overnight. As I removed the snow from my driveway and sidewalk, I could not help but admire the peaceful scene in the city park across from our house. Granted, the rumble of my snowblower and the passing snow plow interrupted the quiet. Cars and trucks were struggling up the highway hill near us. Yet, the snow-covered gazebo and trees presented such a calm. As I contemplated the quiet serenity of our park, I considered the contrast to what so many of our veterans had to experience in a war zone. And I offered prayers to those who sacrificed their lives for the peace in which we live. I give thanks to each and every man and woman who have walked in harms way to protect this country we so love. As I considered their sacrifice for the peace we enjoy, my mind could not help but reflect on the sacrifice made by God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, for the peace in our spirits that can sustain us in times of internal trial and conflict. There is an external peace in our world that means the absence of war. In this world there will always be unrest and conflict. Of late, the political scene has caused disturbance and agitation in conversations between friends and families. If that hasn’t been enough, the commercial Christmas advertising that once was reserved until after Thanksgiving and now begins with Halloween bombards us with every television commercial. It tends to weigh on a person’s spirit and can disrupt our peace. Without going into detail, our news programs repeat the latest episodes of man’s inhumanity to man. I give thanks that we do not have a ‘hot’ civil war at this time in our country, but when one was raging between the northern and southern states, the noted poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the lyrics to a Christmas Carol entitled “Christmas Bells.” He reflected in dismay upon hearing church bells ringing out familiar carols while war was raging. Near the end of his poem, Longfellow pens how his head is bowed in sorrow and “There is no peace on earth, for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men.” One cannot help but think that he had no sooner penned those words, than the Spirit came upon him to boldly write the last verse – “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.” Okay, so I may be equally accused of bringing in the Christmas message earlier than expected, but I offer this in my defense – the message of Christmas is not confined to one day or one season, it is the message that should ring in our hearts and spirits each and every day. When the Christ is born into our hearts each day, we can experience a peace that confounds the world’s thinking. As we recognize veterans and their sacrifices this week, as we head into a season of Thanksgiving, and as we begin to decorate for the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace, may each of us accept the gift of abundant life the Savior came to give. Be at peace. In this season, in all seasons, may you find a place of worship to rejoice with others in His peace. Pastor Mark.


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