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Chicago, Illinois 60630-2431

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A Word from Pastor Joyce

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6.9)

When one walks through the hallway connecting the emergency room with the main hospital at Good Samaritan in Downers Grove, one can’t help but notice a lovely artistic presentation of this encouraging passage. When I was serving the church in Downers Grove, and making many trips to the hospital, some days I would hurry past, anxious to get to my destination - - - the room of a sick member of the congregation - - - or perhaps the surgical family waiting area. Some days the Spirit would urge me to stop and take time to pray - - - and I did.

Although I work hard at trying to pace myself sensibly so that I don’t become too weary, there are days I cannot help but become very weary. I think I was doing exceptionally well until the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season happened upon us. In some ways, the extra worship services that happen are actually energizing - - - at first. I tend to get excited about a special theme or an event that I envision making worship all the more meaningful. I enjoy the opportunity to be creative. Sometimes, however, I must admit, the details became oppressive. I always look forward to a some time off in between Christmas and Epiphany. I look forward to enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation AND some much needed time to focus on family needs and relationships.

This year, as I anticipate my time off, I am trying to work ahead, as well. I am also “gearing up” for the family Christmas - - - on December 30th . The immediate and extended family will gather, twenty three of us, at the Gulliford house in Downers Grove. The meal will be festive. As I write this article on December 15th, I am not totally sure of the menu. I need to figure it out, though. My nieces are already wanting to know what they can contribute to the meal. Right now, I just don’t know! There will be eight grandchildren this year, my four and my sister’s four. The age range is from five months to seven years. I’m guessing the gift exchange will be a little chaotic. No matter, it will be wonderful.

Following the family gathering, I get to baby sit for my two school age grandchildren. Mom and Dad don’t have enough vacation days to give up. So - - - it’s grandma to the rescue. I will be returning to work the day of Trinity’s big Epiphany celebration (read about it on page -- ). I will be weary going into my time off - - - no doubt about it. And, I don’t know that I will feel particularly rested or refreshed the day I return. I wonder if I’ll ever get this year’s Christmas letter written? Add to all this the uncertainty that has a way of cropping up during this time of transition and waiting - - - this time of anticipation and wondering. How long will I be here at Trinity? How long will I drive the challenging roads between Downers Grove and Chicago? When will Trinity be ready for a new, called “permanent” pastor? Am I facilitating this interim process work as well as I should? I definitely have been feeling weary. Most likely, I will continue to feel weary.

During my tenure here at Trinity, I’ve been to the hospital a lot. Several people have suffered illness and many have died. As I wander hospital halls, I look at the walls. I remember that wall at Good Sam. I remember God’s encouraging word. I pray. “Lord, give me the energy. Give me the strength. Refresh my spirit. Help me to be a blessing to those I visit. Give me the words you would have me say. Help me to be a blessing to the congregation. Lead me and guide me. Help me to get everything done that needs to be done - - - and help me to do it all to your glory. Amen.”

Doing the Lord’s work is always a challenge - - - one that is worth every bit of effort one gives. Whether one is a pastor or a volunteer, God’s call is clearly urging us on and showing us the way. God’s children are everywhere. They all need our love and care. They all need to experience the love of Christ through our witness as we follow in his footsteps. Be the disciple you are called to be. Isaiah says it well: “ . . . my word . . . that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55.11) God has given you his word. God calls you to use his word for his purpose. You will succeed. God says you will. Hang in there. The harvest is coming. Bring Christ’s message to all - - - the opportunities are endless.
Peace and joy, Pastor Joyce

12/22/2006