Losing is on my mind today. That has something to do with a certain basketball game last night, but if you think Duke people don't know how to lose, let me remind you we go through a football season every year. (Congratulations, USC.)
Actually, the losing I'm reflecting on is losing pillars of our church. Over the course of the last week we lost four: Beth Bigelow, Jo Richardson, Lonnie Miller, and Paul Rung. Together, they had 240 years of membership at Central. Among other ministry, they served as a wedding director, teachers, missionaries, an usher. They helped Central have the spiritual, leadership, and monetary resources we needed to continue to serve God's kingdom in Florence and well beyond.
We speak of loss when someone dies and, to be sure, it is a loss to all who were positively affected by them, most especially those who loved and were loved by them. It is also a time of being found.
Yesterday we discussed the woman at the well who was lost in a couple of ways. She was missing from her community and she was distanced from God - thinking he was to be found on a mountain when, in fact, he had come to find her at the well.
In the story, we see that she gets found. To modernize the message she learned that day, she learned that Jesus loves her, that she is the church, and that she is the light of the world. As the light, she witnessed to her newfound faith in the community from which she had been lost.
The message the woman at the well learned and shared is the message the witnesses we've lost this week have shared with us and others. As they are now eternally found in God, the work is left to us. We dare not lose the opportunity to build on their good work. It is our time to share with each other and those beyond this community of faith: Jesus loves you, you are the church, you are the light of the world, my friends.
A way to share and receive that word is through worship. I hope you'll be able to participate in the Lenten Service this Wednesday at 12:30. If you are, you'll appreciate the faithful and effective preaching of Rev. Tim Rogers, as well as the meaningful midweek service.