Yesterday, something bittersweet happened at Victory Tacloban. Pastor Kix Javier was announced as the new senior pastor of the church as Pastor Eugene Ramirez moves forward to another ministry opportunity. The transition was God’s act of grace that left many people teary-eyed and resulted in an outpouring of love within the congregation. It was one of those moments when your heart is pulled into two opposite directions. On the one hand you are excited with the fresh opportunities that come with new leadership; on the other hand you are sad about having to let go (at least formally) of pastors with whom you’ve forged strong relationships through the years. How do you even rejoice and be sad at the same time?
That’s the thing with the Christian message. We don’t actually have to choose between the two because if you look at the crux of the gospel story, the joy of our salvation is purchased with the heavy price of the suffering Christ. This teaches us that as long as we are in this world, all our joys will always be tempered with a tinge of suffering. When Jesus described the kingdom of heaven, he used the analogy of the joy and pain of childbirth. Christmas is both heaven’s loss and earth’s gain. Holy Week is both crucifixion and resurrection. We don’t get to pick one and reject the other. Jesus embraced both; we should do the same.