Pastor’s Letter for February 2023


Pastor Jim Martin of St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Weston, WV
Pastor Jim Martin

Jesus, in preparing his disciples for his departure and his subsequent death on the cross, offered
words of comfort and reassurance framed in promise and hope.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house
there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a
place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to
myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where
I am going . . . I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will
no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live . . . I have said these
things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let
your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:1-4, 18-19, 25-27).
Yet, there appears to be so little peace in our world today. No matter where we look, we stumble
over conflict: among nations, among our leaders, among our neighbors, even within the church. It is
unsettling to exist in such an atmosphere that is not peace–filled. More than unsettling, it is
downright unhealthy: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Howard Thurman in his book
“Mediations of the Heart” offers the following reflection and prayer.

I Seek Room for Peace.

I SEEK the enlargement of my heart that there may be room for Peace.

Already there is room enough for chaos. There is in every day’s experience much that makes
for confusion and bewilderment. Often I do not understand quite how my relations with
others become frayed and chaotic. Sometimes this chaos is a positive thing; it means that
something new, creative and whole is beginning to pull together the tattered fragments of my
relationship with a person and to fashion it into that which delights the spirit and makes glad
the heart. Sometimes the chaos is negative, a sign of degeneration in a relationship once
meaningful and good. There is room enough for chaos.

But the need of my heart is for room for Peace: Peace of mind that inspires singleness of
purpose; Peace of heart that quiets all fears and uproots all panic; Peace of spirit that filters
through all confusions and robs them of their power. These I see NOW. I know that here in this
quietness my life can be infused with Peace.

Therefore, before God, I seek the enlargement of my heart at this moment, that there may be
room for Peace.

Jesus offers us his Peace just as he offered it to his disciples. Even so, I confess that I struggle
with holding Peace in my heart. As I prepare to observe a “good” Lent in preparation for
Easter (preparing to prepare), I am determined to make Thurman’s prayer mine and seek the
enlargement of my heart: God of mercy and grace, enlarge my heart that there may be room
for Peace. How about you?

In Christ,
Pastor Jim