Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash
Twenty-four hours ago, I dreaded Easter morning worship. It was coming. It was well-planned. I had practiced it several times.
I wanted nothing to do with the upcoming worship service.
The people. Oh, the people. I had been without rest for so long, it seems, and now nearly any interaction I had with a person for longer than a few minutes would bring me down. It wore at me so much that depression was able to gnaw at my soul.
And Easter morning? Do you have any idea how many people I’d have to interact with?
I braced myself. (more…)
Courage, Dear Heart: Letters to a Weary World
by Rebecca K. Reynolds
The world is broken. I am broken. In so many ways, I recognize what is wrong with me, in me, and around me. Into this setting Rebecca Reynolds pens nine letters of encouragement, of understanding, of heaving deep sighs with you and for you. She brings comfort that is not surface as she points to true Comfort.
This little book sighs with comfort. The first letter had me in tears.
Before M [the author’s adopted son], I didn’t understand what fierce love God holds for those he has adopted into his family. I didn’t realize that when he pursues us,he knows all our damage and our defects – and he knows exactly where we rank on every system humans use to determine our value. He stars straight into all of the world’s opinions of us and yet proclaims that we are the wanted ones. No matter how anybody has let us down, hurt us, forgotten us, we are still longed for and beloved children. (39, emphasis in original)
Reynolds excels at using story to illuminate and make new truths that I have known for many years. The opening letter about rejection begins with a retelling of Jacob and his wives from Leah’s perspective. I hurt for her as I never had before. We hear about the history of Reynold’s adopted son. We hear about friends struggling with cancer. And throughout, Reynolds brings comfort. (more…)
Luke 24:36-49 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
As I walked up the sidewalk, I noted the shoeprints on the cement. They were red.
Inside, the woman wailed. A younger woman sat beside her — her daughter. I introduced myself. The daughter moved aside and allowed me to sit beside the widow. I listened.
Twenty minutes earlier, I had received a call. A member family lived in this condo; the crying woman was their upstairs neighbor. She had discovered her husband lying dead at the end of the stairs in a pool of blood. Her phone didn’t work, so she came downstairs — having to step through that pool of blood — to use the member family’s phone. The members called me; this woman and her husband didn’t have a church.
And now, here I sat. I arrived before the coroner, though not before the police. They swarmed her apartment, but at least for now it was just us. She cried. She was in shock. “I should have gotten up. What was he doing, moving the television by himself? I should have been awake. I should have helped him.” (more…)
Mark 1:40-42 40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Where do you go with your troubles?
Where do you go with your troubles? Where do you go when the world ends? Who can you talk to when there’s nothing that can be said? What can you do when nothing can be done? Where do you go when you’re dying?
He had to leave. He loved his family too much to stay. If he stayed, they would all die. It was better that he left. It was better that he never kissed his wife goodbye, or gave his son a hug. If he did, he’d be killing them. (more…)
Funeral sermon given Oct. 20, 2011.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
The LORD is Judy’s shepherd.
- He guided in paths of righteousness
- So Judy is dwelling in the house of the LORD forever. (more…)