Retired pas­tor shares mes­sages of renewal

March 31, 2021 • Source: Daily Southtown

Retired pastor shares lessons

Area min­is­ter offers lessons about life dur­ing pan­demic’s sec­ond Easter

The Rev. Gor­don Reif shares thoughts about life and words of wis­dom with var­i­ous friends, fam­i­ly mem­bers and neighbors.

Reif, 90, neat­ly writes his mus­ings on paper. He col­lects a page or two at a time, makes copies and dis­trib­utes them to fel­low res­i­dents of Smith Cross­ing senior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ty in Orland Park.

It’s a con­tin­u­a­tion of things I’ve been doing,” Reif said. I’ve been ordained for 66 years.”

The retired Pres­by­ter­ian min­is­ter served at church­es in Chica­go Heights, Orland Park, Home­wood, Palos Park and else­where. He and his wife, Peg­gy, have been mar­ried for 66 years and raised four children.

The peo­ple who live here are the pri­ma­ry source where I share, but I send them to a few rel­a­tives,” Reif said.

Their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren are scat­tered across the country.

They hear from me now and again,” he said.

Reif calls his col­lec­tions, Rev Sez.” His rumi­na­tions hint at the expe­ri­ence of some­one who wrote ser­mons for many years. He writes about how peo­ple live, how they treat one anoth­er and how they should act.

Since the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic began in ear­ly 2020 his peri­od­i­cal mis­sives have often explored the theme of gratitude.

I think we’re more seri­ous about life than maybe we were,” Reif said. I think we’re more seri­ous about our bless­ings, we’re more seri­ous about needs, we’re more seri­ous about how we can make a good dif­fer­ence if we work at it and try hard.”

Reif said he believes the pan­dem­ic has changed near­ly everyone.

I per­son­al­ly don’t think most peo­ple who have lived through the pan­dem­ic will ever be exact­ly the same,” he said. I think almost always where we’re dif­fer­ent, it will be for the better.”

One les­son is that many will dis­cov­er they took peo­ple and things for grant­ed, he said.

I think we’re going to real­ize that all the things that we have can be tak­en away from us,” Reif said. This is a shocker.”

He relat­ed his own expe­ri­ence at Smith Cross­ing, where he and Peg­gy have lived for the past five years.

We can’t go down and eat in the din­ing room at any time,” he said. We can’t just leave our apart­ments with­out masks on. Lim­i­ta­tions have been devel­oped because of the pan­dem­ic that we nev­er thought would happen.”

The pan­dem­ic has caused social activ­i­ties in the com­mu­ni­ty to be cur­tailed. Reif said after a year­long hia­tus, he is now able to resume host­ing twice month­ly group talks called Chal­lenge Dis­cus­sions. The

He shared sev­er­al pages of Rev Sez mes­sages. The newslet­ters are head­lined with a state­ment fol­lowed by sev­er­al num­bered examples.

Some things we all need: Mak­ing sure we are all always hap­py about the things that should make us hap­py and sad about the things that should make us sad, and live each day accord­ing­ly,” he wrote.

It takes a lot more than a moment or a day: To real­ly care about the well-being of those who are less for­tu­nate,” Reif wrote.

Don’t ever for­get to remem­ber: Just because we can’t do it all does not give us a good rea­son to refuse to do what we can,” he wrote in Rev Sez.

Some things we should not believe in: The sad and bad things that hap­pen to peo­ple are things peo­ple bring upon them­selves,” he wrote.

If he was younger, per­haps Reif would pub­lish his thoughts on an inter­net blog or Twit­ter or share them via email, but he prefers print. Late­ly he has drawn inspi­ra­tion from com­ic strip pan­els in dai­ly news­pa­pers and used their mes­sages as themes.

top­ic of the most recent dia­logue was Get­ting along with dif­fi­cult people.”

With the approach of East­er, Reif has reflect­ed on par­al­lels between

Reif devot­ed his career as a min­is­ter to help­ing peo­ple cel­e­brate mile­stones and get through tough times. As a preach­er, he pon­dered life’s dif­fi­cult ques­tions and shared what he learned. He is humbly quick to admit, how­ev­er, that he doesn’t know all the answers to life’s mysteries.

The pan­dem­ic has tak­en loved ones and deprived peo­ple of shared expe­ri­ences. If the tremen­dous loss of human life and immense scale of suf­fer­ing teach­es peo­ple one thing, it is to be grate­ful for what we have, Reif said.

I think our No. 1 respon­si­bil­i­ty and priv­i­lege is to share the things we’ve learned and the real­iza­tion they can be tak­en away from us,” he said.

Life is pre­cious and fleet­ing, he said, and that which brings joy and hap­pi­ness today can dis­ap­pear tomorrow.

That was one of our mis­sions, to nev­er for­got how for­tu­nate and blessed we are, and how lim­it­ed our own­er­ship is and to live our days that way,” Reif said.

the arrival of COVID-19 vac­cines and the spir­it of renew­al and spring­time. He mod­est­ly pro­fess­es that his writ­ings are not all that pro­found, but mere obser­vances of the everyday.

Read­ers through­out the south and south­west sub­urbs may have encoun­tered Reif dur­ing his years of ser­vice. He was ordained in 1955, he said, and his first assign­ment was in Medi­apo­lis, Iowa.

He quick­ly and pre­cise­ly recalled years served in Iron Riv­er in Michigan’s Upper Penin­su­la and in Fair­bury, Illi­nois, near Bloom­ing­ton. Begin­ning in 1968, he served 30 years at First Pres­by­ter­ian Church of Chica­go Heights.

After retir­ing” from Chica­go Heights in 1998, he served two years at First Pres­by­ter­ian Church of Home­wood, nine years at Peace Memo­r­i­al Church in Palos Park and eight years at Pres­by­ter­ian Church in Orland Park.

Reif said he enjoys con­tin­u­ing his call­ing and meet­ing oth­er res­i­dents at Smith Crossing.

There are a lot of friend­ly peo­ple here, he said. All of them I’d like to get to know bet­ter than I do know them. That’s what will hap­pen as time goes by.”

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