“Moment for Witness” by John Peters
January 16, 2011
I am now several years into retirement. And I find myself increasingly looking back on my life – reflecting on the high points and warm memories, and the low points and not so warm memories. Triumphs and failures …… perhaps that’s the way it is with most lives.
But, when I really stop and reflect carefully on the good things that have happened, I find that the church, and my participation in the life of the church has been at the center of many – if not most – of those good things that have happened to me.
I am, for example, profoundly grateful to the church of my youth in Wisconsin for the guidance, and moral counsel it provided. Those influences are still very clear in my mind today some 60 plus years later.
And later as a young adult I found myself in a church fellowship group not unlike one at this church, where the friends I made had major influences on my life, and still are among my closest friends today, some 50 years later. One such church group friend suggested that I might be suited for work in health care, and I strenuously objected! Health care is doctors and nurses and I’m not either one – but she persisted and I entered a very satisfying 38 year career in – you guessed it – health care administration. I believe the hand of God placed that person in my path.
At another point in my life, being between jobs and having a difficult time, it was my church home, its ministry and its programs and people that saw me through that difficult time.
Later in my life I was led, I believe, to Central. I have now been a part of Central for nearly 16 years, 16 years of new and deep friendships and connections, and opportunities for service.
However, I must, and do, realize that the church is only the setting. It is one of the places where I believe God speaks to us. Our church is a place where we can sense God’s leading us. Sometimes in easy and sometimes in challenging ways. And sometimes in ways we don’t understand.
God was speaking to me in the church of my youth in Wisconsin, and God was speaking to me in and through the church in Minneapolis that redirected my life, God was using the Church in Houston to help me through that difficult time in the 1970s. And God is still guiding me today in this wonderful place we call Central. I’m not sure I always understand how, or where, I am being guided and led, but I can feel it happening.
So, I am grateful, almost beyond words, for this church, like so many others, that is a place and a people where one can come to be reminded of God’s presence among us, to feel God’s comforting presence and to offer our thanks as we do in prayer and through returning a part of that with which we have been blessed.