Losing loved ones sucks

My dad told me that life support had been removed from my grandmother around 3pm PST. It has been rough for me. I only grew up with two grandparents, both on my dad’s side, so I had a very special relationship with both of those grandparents. My grandfather died in April 2014, and that left only my grandmother. And now she’s going…In fact, one regret I have is that the last time I saw my grandmother was at my grandfather’s funeral. I think I’ve seen her maybe twice in 9 years? that sucks. I hate it.
I called her yesterday. My dad called me and said I should. I talked to her and told her I loved her, how much of a blessing she was in my life, that we can hope in God’s love for us, that she was like a mom to my mom once my mom’s mom died, and how much that meant to me, and once again, that I loved her so much. I was crying. I could barely keep it together. It sucked. But I wouldn’t trade that phone call for anything. I wish I could be out there. My hospital chaplaincy has shown me just how special it is when families gather around a love one at the hospital, and I wish I could be there to be with my grandma and with my aunts and uncles and cousins. I hate that I’m not in Sacramento right now.
I hate that I will never have one last visit with her. Before my grandfather died, we knew his time was short so I visited him over Christmas break. It meant the world to me that I could, and I hate that I won’t have that chance with my grandmother.
At the same time, I know that we Christians have the ultimate hope in Christ. We have the hope of resurrection. Death sucks. There’s no way around it. It sucks because we aren’t supposed to die; it is unnatural because God didn’t create us to die. It is a horrible thing because it separates us from each other and because it separates us from our bodies. We are made body and soul, not embodied souls or animated bodies…body AND soul, and that is disrupted in death. Heaven cannot be our home, because only a part of us will be there. Thankfully we have a vision of how it will be in Jesus Christ. When he was resurrected from the grave he was not a spirit…he was a human body that could be touched and could eat. It was a glorified body. And in his ascension he has promised to return, and on that day he will give us resurrected and glorified bodies, and we will live on a perfect, recreated earth with him, our Lord, forever. Death is not the end for us, and heaven is but a pit stop along the way to fulfillment in Christ. And I cannot wait for that day when my grandmother will be reunited, body together with soul, and live forever with her Lord.
Dear Lord, may you help me and all my family in this time of hurt and pain. We know that death hurts, and you know that too. You have mourned death and you know what it is to die. But you rose and have promised to return, so give us an increase of faith so we too may trust in your Holy Word, and praying “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Amen.

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Sow the seeds now that you hope to bear fruit in the future

I fear that if we don’t sow the seeds and plant the message of forgiveness and reconciliation now, it will be too late when it is needed, and we will have but dead seeds yet to sprout or bear fruit. It frightens me. We must take care now!

It has been said that Commandments 2-10 are commentary on the First, and stem from the breaking of that First. I think they may also be seen in the opposite manner. It is easier to break the Tenth, then the Ninth, then the Eighth, and so forth, until the First is no longer an obstacle to us. The Devil starts small, then works and weasels his way until the crack is large and unpatchable.

We all have need to repent. All of us. So let us do so, confessing that we have sinned against God and against our brothers and sisters; then let us hear God’s absolution for us, be reconciled to Him for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then be reconciled to one another in His perfect love.

This may sound idealistic. But I have hope in God’s strength and love and mercy to bring about events and outcomes that are wonderful and amazing and impossible and, yes, even idealistic.

The Water is the Source

Devotion for January 10, from The LORD Will Answer (2004, CPH):

Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! A viper of the Cainite* heresy, lately dwelling in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first sin to destroy Baptism. This is quite in accordance with nature. For vipers and asps and basilisks themselves generally do prefer arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes, after the example of our ICHTHUS** Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water!

–Tertullian of Carthage, c. 160-225

Prayer:

Psalm 43:1-3 (KJV): Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

And as a bonus, the rest of the Psalm

Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

*Cainites were a small “Gnostic” group in early Christianity.

**ICHTHUS is an acronym for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” from the original Greek. “ichthus”, or “ichthys” is also the Koine Greek word for “fish.”

No one said it would be easy…

Well, people do. But they are wrong. Being a Christian…following the Lord is not an easy calling. It never has been. It never will be.

Today’s Old Testament reading (Proper 29, the last Sunday in the church year and the last one in Year C in the LCMS’s Three Year Lectionary so another end right there) was Malachi 3:13-18. Although the pastor this morning used our Epistle (Colossians 1:13-20) reading as the basis for the bulk of his sermon he toughed on this passage and said something that I think most of us know and and have felt and thought but it seemed new to me.

Malachi 3:14–15 (ESV)
14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ”  

Every office has one. Every school has one. The person who doesn’t seem to have to work to be successful. I’m sure they do. But they don’t care about success and yet achieve it. It just seems to come so naturally to them; it almost seems effortless. You desire to be successful in your schoolwork or your career, or you desire to be in a relationship, to find the person God has planned for you. And someone you know seems to go from relationship to relationship, and even though that’s not quite what you desire, you are still somewhat envious that they are in relationships when you aren’t. Or in the office…a colleague may not want to be in that job, and you don’t know if they are truly putting forth their full effort, but then they still outperform you. It’s easy to take our eyes off the Lord and look to someone else. Continue Reading