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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

May 2010

Dear Friends,

                        . . . .thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  (Psalm 23:4)

This is one of the strangest lines is all of scripture. It’s a most uncommon, most extraordinary sentiment lodged in the most common, most beloved song of Hebrew sacred literature: the Shepherd’s Psalm.   In our non-agrarian society, it seems improbable for anyone to derive even the slightest degree of comfort from a rod or a staff.  Spare the rod and spoil the child readily comes to mind as well, and there is surely no comfort whatsoever in this aphorism . . . particularly for the child. 

If I were to own up to my particular fascination with this sentiment of the rod and staff, I should have to admit at the outset that of late I have become preoccupied with fancy walking sticks.  Having been born in an era that is three generations too late, I am still enamored of three-piece suits, mirror-polished shoes topped with grey spats; smart-looking cravats; burgundy smoking jackets lined with black velvet lapels; and elegant walking sticks with silver handles in the shape of a lion’s head.  The last item would be the rod and staff that comforts me in my advanced years and keeps me steady on a course that challenges an aging equilibrium.        

More to the point, however, the rod was the central symbol of authority in the culture of the Israelites.  Moses carried his rod or staff as a shepherd while herding his flock of sheep. (Exodus 4:2)  Aaron’s rod was endowed with miraculous powers, which were used by God in visiting various plagues upon an intransigent Pharaoh prior to the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. (Exodus 6-12)  Moses struck the rock with his rod to bring forth water for a perishing congregation of wanderers.  (Exodus 17)  The rod is the principal emblem of leadership in the Old Testament. 

In the near future our congregation will be placing a symbolic rod and staff in the hands of our new pastor, who will be endowed with the privilege and responsibility of leading this congregation—at God’s behest—into a vibrant and resilient future. As the people of God, we look to that day with hope and anticipation.  Beyond the shadow of a doubt, I believe that rod and that staff will comfort us . . . and challenge us.

Hats off to the past, and coats off to the future!    

 

Yours in Christ, faithfully,

Calvin Coolidge Wilson