Familiar…

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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.

Roots…

Today I had the rare opportunity to sit in worship and listen to my Father preach. It struck me as I listened, that there was a time when I did that every Sunday. And it struck me how long ago those childhood times are.

Listening to my Dad preach is a return to my roots. It was in those childhood days of watching and listening to my Dad that I learned most of what I know about leading worship. My Dad likes to tell me I am a good preacher, but as I listened to him today, I knew that any ability I have as a preacher has its roots in listening to him.

We are each our own person when we preach, but we also share phrases and language and theology. And that is kind of a beautiful thing. I love the thought that I am myself, but I am also my father. I love the thought that his fingerprints can be seen in me.

I am blessed to have been given great roots. I grew up knowing that I was loved more than I could ever imagine by One who died for me. And that out of that love, God had granted my folks the ability to love others. And God granted me the same ability.

I am convinced that it is because of such strong roots that my life flourishes now. And today, I have been reminded of my roots and I am thankful for them.