Sunday, March 27, 2016

emmaus

as you walk
pay attention
for i may come
and walk alongside you

for today
is the day
of resurrection
when all that is dead
within you
and around you
will be brought to life
once again

Saturday, March 26, 2016

holy saturday 2016

But they rested on the Sabbath
in obedience to the commandment.
~Luke 23:56


it is not yet time
to go to the tomb
this is the in between time

grief has given way
to rest for now
and all we can do
is wait
and hope

death is the day gone by
but life is still yet to arrive
no angels
no visitations
no resurrection
no, not yet
it will come soon enough
but not today

today is holy saturday
today all we can do
is wait
and rest
and hope

Friday, March 25, 2016

good friday

As I stand at the cross today with Jesus, looking into his eyes, wondering how in the world he could love me this much, I am totally overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by his pain, his loneliness, his brokenness, and his sacrifice.  Overwhelmed, and overcome, by the power of his Great Affection.  Overwhelmed by the enormous price of my sin.

I am also overwhelmed by the suffering and the sorrow, the sadness and the grief, that surrounds him.  What must this day have been like for his mother?  For his brothers?  For his friends?  For all those who loved him so?  The sadness and the grief, even in the midst of holding onto the hope of eternal life, must have been immense.  Having recently stood in the midst of those who have lost one who was dearly loved, I can only imagine the pain.  Having lost a child of my own long ago, it is not hard to remember the anguish and the agony of that loss, even knowing someday that there will be gain.

On this Good Friday, what are we to do with all of this?  It seems that there are two options.  On the one hand we can endure and embrace it.  Or, on the other, we can allow it to eat us alive from the inside out. Caryll Houselander once wrote: "No one can escape it; everyone must somehow either make friends with suffering or be broken by it.  No one can come close to another, let alone love him, without coming close to his suffering.  Christ did far more, he wed himself to our suffering, he made death his bride, and in the consummation of his love, he gave her his life."  So somehow, in embracing our pain, we not only join hands with the God who embraced, and redeemed, our own, but we also hold on to the possibility that this pain will, someday, help us to be joined in wonderfully intimate community with each other.

But I think the grief and sadness of Good Friday, ultimately, has something to teach us about the heart of God; a God we tend to blame and grow embittered against whenever suffering barges into our well-ordered, once-peaceful lives.  As M. Robert Mulholland Jr. writes: "God's most profound self-revelation is seen in the cross.  We usually think of the cross as something God 'did' to 'solve' the sin problem that alienates us from God.  But in reality, the cross reveals who God is, not what God did as an action separate from God's nature."  The cross, and Good Friday, is not meant merely to show us what God did, but to show us who he is.  He is not One who stands far off from us, orchestrating the tragedies in our lives.  Nor is he One who stands idly by, refusing to use his power for our benefit, just to test us to see it we've got what it takes.  He is a good, good Father.  One who enters into the chaos with us.  One who willingly watches his own Son be put to death by the very people he came to save; in order that they might one day come to know the joy and delight they were made to live in.  He is a Father, even as the events of Good Friday unfold, whose heart breaks in grief and in agony over the necessity of the whole endeavor.  So much so that he blackens the sun, he causes the earth to shake, and he tears his heavenly robes (the curtain of the temple) in grief as his Son Jesus cries out and breathes his last. 

Where is God on Good Friday?  He is grieving right along with us...waiting for Sunday to come.  Thanks be to God!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

unless i wash you

Unless I wash you, you have not part with me. (John 13:8)


One of my good friends always used to say, “You can come to Jesus with dirty feet, but you can’t stay that way.”  And I wonder if that was not exactly what Jesus was trying to communicate to Simon Peter on this particular night.  Come to me.  O come, you dirty and messy and broken.  Come to me, all of you who are screwed up and fouled up and lost.  Come to me, all who are anxious and fearful and insecure.  Come to me, all who are filled with guilt and doubt and shame.  Come to me, you whose feet—and hearts and lives—are covered with filth, and I will make you new.  For you cannot wash yourselves, I must wash you.  I can make the foulest heart clean.  I can turn your mess into maturity.   I can make the most broken life whole.  Just come to me.  But if you come to me, you must realize that you cannot stay the way you are, because everything that I touch, I transform.  It is just the nature of who I am.  I make things back into what they were intended to be.  So come to me, for unless I wash you, you can have no part with me.  What do you say?


Wash me, Blessed Jesus, wash me clean; for I am in desperate need.  Wash my dirty feet, that I might offer others the same.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

will you

"Will you really lay down your life for me?"  ~Jesus (John 13:38)

What a question!  In fact, it might actually be THE question as we walk through Holy Week.  Will you really lay down your life for me?  Will you?  This very moment, and the next, and the next?  And what does that even look like?  Obviously Jesus was willing to lay down his life for us, now are we willing to do the same? 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

palm sunday 2016

come
ride with me
beckons jesus
come
to jerusalem

come
and weep
over a city
gone astray
come
and die with me
that you might
be raised
to new life


(from Pieces II by Jim Branch)

Friday, March 18, 2016

seizing jesus

Again they tried to seize him,
but he escaped their grasp. (john 10:39)


Jesus
Lord Jesus
We can never seize you
Any better than they could
So I wonder why
We keep on trying

You are always
Too big for us
And too small
You are always
Escaping our grasp
Thanks be to God


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

a prayer for nancy

Father, we gather today with sad but grateful hearts.  We thank you for the life of Nancy Brummette.  We thank you for the impact she has had on each one of us.  We thank you for her joy and her smile, her laughter and her love. We thank you for the way she gave herself so freely and so naturally.   We thank you for homemade rolls, and sweet nicknames, and driving kids to school.  We thank you for fast food runs, Sunday lunches, and always encouraging words. Thank you that she made each of us feel like we were the most important person in the world.  And I know this brought a huge smile to your face, for that is how you long for each of us to feel.  Thank you that when we were around her, it brought out the very best in each of us.  Thank you that she made us want to be better, more loving, more giving people.  May we always strive to be that for others.  Thank you for the warmth of her home, and how that always communicated the warmth of her heart; as well as the depths of her love for you. 

We also thank you that you are a God who always brings life from death.  That because of the resurrection, death does not have the final word, life does.  And thank you that she now resides with you in your unending embrace of love, with Charlie, her mom and dad, her brother and sister, her grandson, and other family and friends gone before.

And Father, please surround this family with your love that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness in the midst of their pain.  I pray that they might meet the days ahead with courage and conviction; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in joyful expectation of eternal life with you, and all those they love, through the One who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Friday, March 11, 2016

drue

"You don't know what you've got until it's gone," the old saying goes.  But occasionally, in this life, someone so remarkable comes along that they completely disprove this age-old saying.  My mother-in-law was one such person.  The type of person that was so remarkable that you could not not be amazed by her.  You could not not see her warmth and her kindness and her care.  You could not not be completely overwhelmed by her selflessness, her relentless positivity, and her love.

She was known affectionately as Drue.  I'm not exactly sure where that name came from, but I believe it was given to her by one of her sixteen grandchildren, whom she adored and who adored her in return.  Drue passed away a few days ago and it has caused me to spend some time reflecting on her life and legacy and impact.  And it has caused me to recognize the fact that she lived her life in such a way that everyone who came into contact with her was truly aware of what an incredible and remarkable person she was.  Everyone that was a part of her life fully realized what a treasure she was while she was still with us, which is an incredible blessing.  And now that she's gone to be with the Father, I'm sure that this awareness will only continue to grow.

As far as her life was concerned, Drue was one of the most loving, caring, and selfless people I have ever met.  As a matter of fact, in all of the 33 years I that have been married to her daughter, I do not remember one single time where Drue didn't tell me that she loved me.  And I knew every time she said it that she genuinely meant it.  And she didn't just do that to me, she did it to everyone.  In fact, she had a pet name for everyone.  Even folks who had just met her for the very first time were likely to be called dumplin' or sweetheart or angel, or my personal favorite, sir bear.  And when she called you by that name, whatever it may have been, you felt loved.  Somehow just the way she said it convinced you that it was true.  She just had a way of making people feel valued and special.

Every Sunday, for as long as I can remember, Drue cooked lunch for whoever wanted to come.  No need to call ahead, just come on.  And when you did, it was a sight to behold.  It wasn't just one dish, it was countless dishes.  It wasn't just one dessert, it was numerous desserts.  And more homemade rolls than you could count.  And if she ever found out that something was your favorite, look out!  You were going to get more of that favorite thing than you could ever eat in one sitting, or maybe even in one lifetime.  Sunday lunch has been a staple in the family for years and years and it is one of the main places where you got to see Drue in her element.  Nothing made her happier than having her family--children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren--around enjoying great food, lots of laughter, and wonderful conversation.  It simply brought her to life.

But I think it was her spirit and her character that made her so special.  Or, I guess I should say her Spirit--as in the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God lived in and through this lady in such an incredible way.  In fact, the fruit of the Spirit was so evident in her life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  I mean, you could not write a better description of Drue than that.  When you were around her you couldn't help but taste the goodness of God.

Her legacy is easy to see as well, all you have to do is look at each one of her amazing children.  They are all brimming with the Spirit of God as well.  Somehow Drue, and her wonderful husband Charlie, were able to breathe the very best parts of themselves into their children.  And believe me, that is no small task!  Each one of the kids is such a beautiful and unique expression of their parents, as well as of their Heavenly Father.  Carol, is the one I know best, because I have had the privilege of calling her my wife for the last 33 years.  Carol is one of the sweetest and kindest and most beautiful people I've ever known.  And the more I know her, the more I fall in love with her.  She has a genuine care and concern for people, as well as a gentleness and tenderness that can only come from a heavenly source.  She loves so well and so naturally that she had to have learned it from somewhere.

And finally, what about Drue's impact?  How can you even begin to measure such a thing?  I suppose that maybe the best way to judge impact is by the size of the mark that is left.  A large comet, for instance, when it comes to rest, leaves a pretty significant hole in the surrounding landscape.  If that is indeed the best measure of impact, then Drue's impact was immeasurable.  Because although we know that she is home and free and more alive than she's ever been, the hole that has been left in our lives and our hearts by her passing is immense.

So, it is with deep gratitude that I reflect back on a life that was incredibly well-lived.  I am so thankful that God gave me the gift of being a part of this amazing woman's family.  Her love and her life and her infectious Spirit will be sorely missed, but earth's loss is heaven's gain.  Because on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, heaven gained a great one.  And I hope Jesus likes homemade rolls, because I have a feeling he's going to be getting a lot of them.