So today was another funeral at St. A’s. I’ve lost count of the number that we’ve had since this year began. But it has easily been too many. The gentleman whose life we celebrated today was not known to me, but he was an ordained elder in our congregation. He was remembered fondly by many who are elders today.
As the service rolled on, I found myself thinking about the scriptures that were read. I have heard them too many times recently. But because of that, they were strangely comforting to me. There was something in the rhythm of the words, the familiar cadence of these promises of God, that was deeper than the words themselves. Deeper than the things they were describing. It’s hard to explain what I felt as I listened to them yet again.
If there is a sound to the fabric of life, I think it is heard in powerful words of Scripture that are often repeated. The words of the 23rd Psalm – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want – or the firm voice of Jesus saying “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” or the beautiful writing of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, reminding them that he is convinced that neither depth nor height nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
As I listened, what could have been a very exhausting and sad time (really, it has been too much lately, and I echo the sentiment of one friend who said “I just don’t want to sit in another funeral.”), was transformed and transcended. I found myself deeply moved by by the sense that these words and stories travel with us throughout our lives. They may be often read at a funeral, but they shape and form followers of Jesus in our good moments as well as the bad ones, in our happy moments as often as our sad moments, in our times of celebration and our times of grief.
I am so glad we do not go this road alone.
Sometimes God comes to us in big, bold ways. But I suspect more often, God comes to us in quiet ways, ways that might be overlooked if we are not careful. Often, I think God uses a simple conversation with a friend to speak His will to us.
This morning before worship I was chatting with James, a member of the congregation where I serve. He was telling me how he was participating in Lent this year. He said instead of giving anything up, he’d heard about a challenge to do 40 acts of kindness in the days leading up to the celebration of Easter. And then he asked me if I was doing anything to observe Lent.
The truth is, I wasn’t. Not at that point. But as we talked, I thought…what about a blog project? My friend Becky does one on her blog, meant to encourage people to make God a priority during this season. I am not thinking of doing anything quite so grand as Becky’s project…but I think it is high time I got back to blogging regularly, and I think Lent could be a good catalyst for it.
So starting today, and lasting at least until Easter, I will be publishing a blog entry six days of week (I still need my sabbath!). I encourage you to try Becky’s Lent project, read along on my blog as I journey through Lent, or find some other way of preparing for the celebration of Easter.
It is good to make God a priority. After all, God made us enough of a priority that Jesus came to be with us, came to teach us, and ultimately came to die that we might be made right with God.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
1 Peter 1:3-5 NLT
I am pretty tired right now and more than a little thick-headed. It seems I’ve managed to pick up my first cold of the season. I am hopeful that with enough rest (and perhaps a few prayers from those who read my blogs), I will be in the mend by the end of the week.
In the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about fear vs. faith. I love the above saying, because I believe it to be true. Personally, I find it easier to be fearful than bold or full of faith. I know this about myself, and so I am constantly battling my tendency towards fear. I battle it by reminding myself of what the Bible says and what I have experienced of God’s power in my life. I battle it by singing songs of praise and being in community with others who share my faith. I battle of by feeding my faith rather than my fear.
Sometimes the battle against fear goes well and I find myself amazed at the strength God gives me. Other times I find myself feeding my fear, and I need the reminder that there isn’t room for both fear and faith in my mind/heart/spirit.
Church can be tough. I love my church, but we are far from perfect. We make mistakes and we face difficult circumstances.
But we are called to be people of faith not people of fear.
So may you find new ways each day to feed your faith. May you know that there is not room for both to reside in you. May you tap into the Source of all hope and find that through Him your faith is growing and your fear is failing.