Recently many around the world watched a little chimney on the roof of one of the most iconic places of worship in the world, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. When the smoke came out white, Roman Catholics everywhere knew that they had a new leader. Personally, and I believe I speak for the vast majority of Protestants, I wish Pope Francis well, that he might lead with the grace of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit.
There are many things about this new pope that were of immediate interest, and as time goes on, that list is increasing. Among one of the earliests that caught our attention was his age. Pope Francis is 76.
While most Americans are thinking of where to play golf, park the travel trailer, the next bridge game or what to watch on television, this man, at 76, is taking on one of the most demanding physical, spiritual and emotional tasks in the world: leading the world’s largest religious denomination and transforming one of the most entrenched bureaucracies in the world.
The same is true on the other side of the coin — many people have done astounding things at very young ages. Camille Saint Saens gave his first public piano recital at age 5, to rave reviews. While most children today would be playing in sand boxes, with video games or with Barbie dolls, he was already practicing for hours each day.
In the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for everything. I would suggest that a great question for each of us to ask ourselves is, “what is it time for me to do?” The Rev. Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, past chaplain of the U.S. Senate, often says, “Living each day as though it were your last leads to a life well-lived.” I find that statement a good check on my daily calendar.
Many in Walla Walla have had respect for Jeanette Hayner, as she accomplished much during her well-lived life. She was quoted by her children as having said, “I did everything I wanted in life, and I did each in its own season.” Whether it was finishing in the top of her class from the University of Oregon Law School, or raising a family, getting Walla Walla High School built while serving on the School Board or serving as the first female majority leader in the Washington state Senate, she did them all in the right season of her life.
Today is Palm Sunday on the Christian Calendar. It is the day when Christians worldwide remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of the most impacting and dramatic week in all of human history. The week would include a passionate prayer of Jesus the night before His crucifixion, when he said to His Heavenly Father, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Jesus accepted the times of his life.
There had been times for Jesus to heal, celebrate with friends, retreat for quiet and prayer, teach and even confront the religious leaders who led others astray. Palm Sunday was the day for Him to be recognized as the Hosanna, the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Friday would be the day for Him to suffer and die for the sins of the world. Three days later would be the time for death to be conquered as He rose from the dead.
I invite us all to think about the events of Jesus’ life and the timing involved in them. But as always, that devotion should cause us to think about how God would have us respond and use the times of our lives.
Holy Week, the final week of Jesus’ ministry before His resurrection, makes known God’s great power and love for us, and should always cause us to ask, “how does God want to demonstrate that same love through us?” You’re never too young or too old, it’s always the right day to do something for God’s glory.
At 100 years old, a dear friend told me, “A Bible well-worn is evidence of a life that isn’t.” At 100, she was teaching. She lived her life to the fullest.
At weeks old, a baby brings joy to the world around her. That time is used to its fullest.
Go, and live today.
The Rev. Albert Gillin is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Walla Walla. Contact him at 509-525-1093 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at email@example.com.