The ministry has been so hard lately – so hard that even on days where God sends so many blessings, I see only failure.
Through these hard times, I have felt pressure, but I have not been shattered.
Today, though, I was broken.
A few months ago, a congregation member asked me if we might better serve our neighbor by not doing a food drive, but by serving an actual meal to the homeless of our community. I thought the idea had merit and blessed a continued look at it.
Today that idea bore fruit as we gathered to serve a Thanksgiving Feast to the homeless. A member had contacted a local shelter, asking if they could use such a meal and how we should go about such a project. Through the shelter we invited seventy-five homeless individuals and families. Another member suggested, if we were serving a meal anyway, why not invite our prospect and delinquent member list?
Hey, why not? (more…)
I made the women cry.
Several weeks ago I asked our teen group if they’d be interested in singing a song for Saints Triumphant Sunday – which was today. Many said yes. As we practiced, it became clear that really only a few meant it. But as we practiced the song, parents joined in… then another random family… and then another… and we suddenly had an ad hoc choir made up of people that aren’t normally in our church choir.
And today, for the sermon, we took a tour of heaven. We started in Eden, actually, and saw the tree of life… and then saw Adam and Eve choose a different tree. We saw the curse that God put on them. And we felt the weight of that curse. We explored the history of this world, the history of our own lives, and found the burden of the curse very real. And we saw that yes, we ourselves had earned that curse.
We saw that at the end, when everything looks destroyed, Jesus returns. And he gives us a tour of heaven. We see the stream of the water of life… but it doesn’t come from us. It comes from outside us… it flows from the Throne of God and of the Lamb. We saw that tree of life back – back again! And we pluck the fruit from its branches and we take a bite, the juice dribbling down our chins… and Jesus is the one who brought us that tree. And Revelation says that “there is no more curse.”
And we saw that Jesus came… and that he is the one who has taken the curse away. He was the only one good enough to earn the right to eat from the tree of life… but he chose a different tree. Unlike Adam and Eve who chose a different tree out of rebellion, Jesus chose a tree out of love. He chose the tree of the cross. He felt the burden of that curse. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. And he became the curse for us… and gave us forgiveness.
We saw that Jesus isn’t just the door into heaven, but the direct source of everything good there. (more…)
They were married seventy years and two weeks the day he died. She told me today, about a month later, that she was convinced she should be over it by now.
…getting over seventy years of marriage in a month? Mourning a lifetime in just a few weeks? Seriously?
Her children don’t want her sad. They want her to be happy. They’re convinced that the best way to do that is to hurry up the mourning process. Oh, and make sure she’s taken care of. Physically, she’s probably not been better off in quite a while. But mentally… emotionally…
I told her it was ok to cry. I was the first person to tell her that. I told her about Jesus… Jesus knew he was going to see his friend Lazarus again in just a few minutes. He’d told his disciples he was going to “wake Lazarus up.” But when he saw the tomb… he wept. And if it’s ok for Jesus to cry over the death of a loved one, it’s ok for you to cry. It is true we do not mourn like those who have no hope, but that doesn’t mean we don’t mourn. Jesus knew he would see Lazarus again, and soon, but he still wept. You know you will see your husband again… but you still miss him. You have been stung by sin’s greatest weapon. It’s ok to cry. (more…)