Friday, August 23, 2013

Morning Joy

My heart continues to be weighed down by the news of violence streaming in from Egypt and Syria as well as other places in the Middle East. I find it hard to wrap my mind around the loss and the pain suffered as a result of so much violence and destruction. I was especially saddened by news of the burning of churches in Egypt. Even though I know this is not the first time such a thing has happened, nor will it be the last, I still wonder what kind of person burns a house of worship. Any house of worship.  Maybe we people who gather for worship regularly present a more powerful threat than we realize. With our current electronic connections around the world, events elsewhere can provide a visceral punch to the gut almost as they are happening. Fortunately, at least on occasion, good news also travels quickly. I saw a picture of people worshipping on Sunday in Egypt in their burned-out church, and I read a proclamation by the Secretary-General of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt that reminded his readers, “the Church is not buildings and bricks; but is the people of God who must testify about God with energy and clarity. Though some church facilities have been destroyed, still these congregations remain alive and vibrant, fulfilling their purpose to the fullest.”

Psalm 30 says:

[4]   Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones,  
          and give thanks to his holy name.  
[5]   For his anger is but for a moment;  
          his favor is for a lifetime.  
     Weeping may linger for the night,  
          but joy comes with the morning.

I like the promise that the dark night of weeping and despair is always, in God’s abundant grace, followed at some point by renewed joy. Good to remember, even in the midst of horrific violence and anguish when joy is not even a distant memory. With God all things are possible, even joy in the morning.

Grace and Peace,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


                My husband and I go to a local gym that is part of our city’s parks and recreations department. This is not the fast-paced gym for the serious weight lifters, but a place where local firefighters come to stay in shape, along with seniors and young couples with children. Because we go regularly, we have become acquainted with the other regulars. The ones in their 80s are the ones I most admire. When I talked to one such woman about her faithful gym routine, she said if she did not keep doing it, she would not be able to move. I suspect she, like many of the regulars, also goes to participate in the community that has formed there.

                Two of my favorites among the regulars are Bill and John, identical twins, now in their 80s. I have gotten to know them well enough that I can tell them apart. I try to imagine what it might have been like to attend the local high school with these two. They regularly stop to tease me and my husband. They tell me they are flirting with me, and I respond that I am glad someone still thinks I am worth flirting with. They kid my husband about the local health care system where he works. Like any large institution it has its problems. The gym is too quiet when Bill and John are not holding court there.

                As I have gotten to know these two better, I have learned that like many of the happiest people I know, their good natured approach to life has been forged in experiences that have included suffering. Bill lost his first wife, and has remarried. John’s wife has Alzheimer’s and has been in a nursing home for almost 15 years now. He told us yesterday that he goes to feed her lunch every day, even though she has not recognized him for a long time. He also said her caretakers have told him it is time to think about hospice. He is struggling with that because he is concerned they will not let him continue to feed her. My husband and I assured him that would not be a problem. He’s thinking about it.

                I have been thinking about our conversation with John since. What an amazing example he models of faithfulness to his wedding vows. I doubt most young couples think about such a necessity when they promise to be faithful and love each other until “death do us part.” I know I didn’t. I wonder if I will have the strength and courage to do so myself if life presents me with that kind of challenge. I have been thinking a lot about faithfulness lately as I’ve prepared to preach again at my home church. As I have thought back over my life and the life of our congregation, I have seen much evidence of God’s faithfulness. John has demonstrated faithfulness himself in his quiet devotion to his wife. What a blessing to know someone who is living such a life.

Grace and Peace,