A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Big Changes

POOR MARCH: It is the HOMELIEST month of the year. Most of it is MUD, Every Imaginable form of MUD, and what isn’t MUD in March is ugly late-season SNOW falling onto the ground in filthy muddy heaps that look like PILES of DIRTY LAUNDRY.Vivian Swift

Changes are messy. March is a messy month. It contains the first day of spring, March 19. Winter gives out its last gasps and slowly, reluctantly recedes. As Vivian Swift observed, there will be mud, lots and lots of mud. But with the mess comes warmer weather and the reawakening of the natural world. Trees and lawns and flowers begin to revive themselves after their long winter naps … along with all our hibernating, groggily wakening furry friends, large and small. There’s another word for this, resurrection.

Thinking of resurrection turns our minds to Jesus. Billy Graham wrote: “God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you’.” We get to celebrate God’s love for us, Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and Jesus’ resurrection here in March this year. Ash Wednesday, beginning the forty days of Lent, occurred on Valentine’s Day this year, February 14. Palm Sunday is on March 24, Maundy Thursday on March 28, and Easter Sunday on March 31. That makes March one beautiful month of Christian celebration. We look forward to celebrating directly with as many of you as possible in church each Sunday of March and happily welcome all who join us online as well.

March is likewise a month of change for me too. I’ll have my long-suffering, extremely hard working, and nearly worn out aortic heart valve replaced on Tuesday, March 12 at Lahey Hospital in Burlington, Massachusetts (as long as my schedule holds). I am grateful to God that valve, hindered in its performance by having only two lobes instead of the normal three, saw me through sixty-three years of life. I’m also grateful to the talented medical team that God has brought into my life who will replace that valve with a brand new three-lobed model to see me through years ahead. Change is messy and I expect to spend a week in the hospital and several weeks at home recovering. During that time, I am also grateful to Rev. Dee Swilling, who will be filling in for me on Sunday mornings for several weeks following surgery. Her efforts are greatly appreciated, especially at this special and very busy time of year.

Amidst the mud and dirty snow, look for the beauty in this homely month. Look for all the signs of new life coming, the new growth, the returning birds, the warm breezes teasing us ever so briefly with the promise of warmer days and mild nights. Look to March for resurrection too, the promise of life eternal given to us by Jesus, our Savior, the most beautiful, hopeful thing of all.

~Pastor Jeff