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Repinski: Saying ‘goodbye’ is more than a wave

Published 11:49am Wednesday, January 1, 2014

We are a thankful people who now enter a new year. Can it be? It’s here, and no one can obstruct its movement.

My thoughts may reflect the thinking, feeling, and both loss and anticipation of numerous persons. Yes, we are all in this.

This reflection pushes forward two quotations. You know them. One: “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” The second: “If you find yourself losing hope, just tie a knot and hang on!”

Wisely, we may apply the first statement to the past year. I suggest, however, with some expansion. The “what’s done” may be in the name under the auspices of other features, personalities, programs; an idealism that grips us ­— particular goals or commitments we wish to continue to honor into 2014.

As a person “born into” a religious community and nurtured by certain terms, I am not uncomfortable attributing a devotion to Jesus Christ as a superb quality of living. My so-called theology, my interpretation, may live out of a “Christ orientation,” but with an open-ended view seeing the term “Christ” as signifying a chief, satisfying purpose for our achievements over the years.

When in a Pentecostal Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin as a child, Sister Ida (our Sunday School teacher), gave our age 10-11 class an assignment. It was something about our young lives, Jesus, and the future. The memory persists and I have not jettisoned the feeling for the Divine that is reflected in Jesus.

I add that the Divine is embraced by a number of “labels,” or designations, and in this new year, I wish to be at peace with those who affirm how precious is our journey.

A newsletter on my desk has on its masthead: “Mounds Park United Methodist Church.” I’m reminded by one of its paragraphs, of the foundation of my urging — finding and following some form of spirituality. It need not be in an institution; it may be profoundly personal, a shaping of the fabric of life by very conscious loyalties, loves, and service.

The church I’ve referred to, on the east side of St. Paul, was once where I was the pastor for some years. It’s still befriending the wounded and celebrating the strengths of a continuing transitional neighborhood. This church describes itself as: “urban, spiritual, missional, relational, authentic, connected, Christ-centered, multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-lingual, inter-generational, economically diverse, community partner, a catalyst, home.” These are marks of Austin area groups, clubs, and organizations (I know. I was recently at the Eagles!). 2014 speaks through a megaphone inviting us to join the ranks of hospitality, justice, and family niceness! Many argue that the venues of Vision 2020 are more than a hint of what we are becoming.

My reference to a second little quote comes from a few beautiful times of formative years as a member of Boy Scout Troop 93. There, in the city of my youth, the gracious members of Trinity Lutheran Church hosted the most curious young people in town (we won the knot-tying contest at the Scout Jamboree in Wausau). Maybe that’s why our scout master — always “Mr. Johnson” — had this saying: “If you find yourself losing hope, just tie another knot and hang on!”

As we welcome a new year, our “exposure” to persons of greatness, influence, and noble example, may give our feet adequate paths for sustaining a healthy direction.

In these days, I am again drawn to the reflections and example of Albert Schweitzer. Some examples are for the ages! His autobiography, “Out of My Life and Thought,” contains wisdom that is golden. Today I resonate with one of his comments. “To the question whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic.”

Now we welcome a cluster of new weeks and months. We will pledge a bit of hope to each other.

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