May 1, 2013

Dear Linwood Friends – as well as friends of Linwood friends,

Last weekend Jan and I were down at Shawnee State Park near Portsmouth, Ohio.  It was wonderful!  There were wildflowers, birds, and butterflies.  But I especially liked the dozens of tones of fresh green leaves, that were seen everywhere you turned.  Most trees and bushes had just leaved, and each had its own distinctive shade of light or bright green.

As I drove home, I thought to myself, “I really like fresh!”

Fresh baked bread.  Freshly hatched butterflies.  Fresh sheets just washed and hung outside to dry.

Fresh is different than new.  Sometimes I like the new, but not always.  Sometimes I am perfectly happy with something that is old.  But fresh is definitely different than new.

A fresh wind off Lake Erie.  Fresh lettuce.  Fresh strawberries.  A fresh coat of paint on the walls of the dining room.  The feel of a baby’s skin.

The older I get the more I like fresh.  I am now well beyond the point (as some of you are!) where there are more years behind me than before me.  There are things in the past that I think about with real joy.  There are things that I ponder that bring great pain.  Yet, there are no do-overs.  The memories of both the blessedness and the brokenness are common to all of us as we think about the paths our lives have taken.

God does not remove the memories of the times we disappointed ourselves as well as others.  Yet, He does not leave us alone with those memories.  He brings to us  “freshness” through his mercy.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

His mercy is new – fresh – every morning!  It is that mercy, regardless of the checkered history, the tangled events, and the motley memories of our lives, that cleanses and frees and empowers our souls to bask and rejoice in the presence of God – every morning and every day!

My dear friend and mentor, Rev. Paul Suzuki, talked about his mother-in-law and her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  She did not recognize Paul, her son-in-law.  She sometimes didn’t know her own daughter.  Her short term memory was awful.  Yet, Paul said, there were two times when she was perfectly fine – when she played hymns on the piano and when she prayed!   His comment to me was, “The soul doesn’t get old.  The soul doesn’t get Alzheimer’s.”

I believe that he was right.  The soul doesn’t get old.  God has provided something for us that is precious at any time, but especially in the older years.  Each morning He provides for us a gift of mercy that brings a fresh joy to our soul.

So, what do we need to do?  Just open our arms and embrace God’s gift?  Yes, but also decide that this fresh blessing – not the aches or pains, not the mixture of memories – is going to set our attitude and motivate our actions as we go through that day.

Blessings on all of you as we come closer and closer to another Linwood season.

Yours in Christ,

Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor

Remember: You can check on seasonal activities and fellowship
opportunities by going to our website,

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