Letter from the Church Council

After my mother-in-law, Eunie Simonson, died, I sorted through the books in the house. Dave Simonson had a significant library of theology books. Of course, I did not get very far, as I kept opening the books to have a look – and a quick read. One that caught my eye was a book by Helmut Thielicke, a German theologian born in 1908. He was known for being able to share theological perception and depth, expressed in the language and imagery of ordinary life.

One story he tells is of two sisters, both wanting to be the best they could be. One sister devoted her life to others; the other sister devoted her life to self-improvement. At the end of their lives, it was the one only seeking self-improvement who seemed “dried up and one-sided” compared with the other who had forgotten herself and lived for others. He also tells the story of an elderly couple who radiated a tremendous happiness. “The wife especially, who was almost unable to move because of old age and illness, and in whose kind old face the joys and sufferings of many years had etched a hundred runes, was filled with such gratitude for life”. He wondered what could be the source of this old woman’s radiance?

Then he saw how her husband related to her, and he realized that it was because this woman was dearly loved. “It was as if she were like a stone that has been lying in the sun for years and years, absorbing all its radiant warmth and now was reflecting back cheerfulness and warmth and serenity.” Pastor Thielicke continues: “Let me express it this way. It was not because she was a cheerful and pleasant person that she was loved by her husband all those years. It was probably the other way around. Because she was so loved, she became the person I now saw before me.”

One who does not love and serve others becomes withered and dead inside. One who does not allow oneself to be loved, dries up too. Thielicke commented, “And it is exactly the same with our relation to God”. We hear many a sermon about how we should love and serve God, and love and serve other people. How many sermons have we heard about allowing God to love us?

God DOES love us, yet when was the last time we allowed ourselves to be ‘like a stone’; doing nothing except absorbing God’s radiant love and warmth? A relationship with God flows in both directions in a creative process; loving and being loved; allowing ourselves to love and allowing ourselves to be loved. I am glad I found this old book on my father-inlaw’s book shelf. I have always loved the phrase from Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

Now I can add: Be still and allow Me to love you. As we begin 2024, may we each find ways to serve each other, perhaps through volunteering at ACC in some capacity, or joining a committee. And may we always allow ourselves to be loved by God in His amazing, infinite way.