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  • WHEN LIFE AND DEATH SHOW UP AT YOUR DOOR

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Bible Talk, Story

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    Leaves ... fall in Millstone NJ
     
     
    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
    a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

     

    A time to be born

    When I first heard the news months ago that I was going to have a child, it took awhile for it to really sink in.  Initially I felt dazed, happy, scared, and hopeful all at the same time.  I could not believe that I would be a father in nine short months.

    Months later when our little daughter started kicking, and I could finally feel what my wife was experiencing, then it really made me even more excited and scared.  New chapters and changing times would soon come full force.  This new baby though was going to be wonderful, I just knew it.  New life would flip my world upside down and I looked forward to being a dad.

    And a time to die

    When I first heard the news that my grandma was on her deathbed weeks ago, I felt dazed, sad, scared, and lost.  Here I was, about to have a child, and I wanted her to at least be able to hold her great-granddaughter once.  When that call came in, it crushed my heart.

    It was so surreal, my daughter was kicking in the womb as my grandma was slowly deteriorating.  The stork was about ready to deliver as the grim reaper was on the doorstep of the hospital room.  Solomon was right, there’s a time to be born and a time to die.  There is no escaping this.

    It was in that hospital room, in the presence of new life and life passing away that I realized how true the words of Solomon were.  Life comes and life goes, the span of a human lasts like the lily in the field.  That’s why I’ll place my hope in Christ, for he alone can preserve us in every stage of life.  He knew who were as we were forming in the womb and he’ll be there with us at the end, shepherding us from this life into life everlasting.  Amen.

     

    Photo: joiseyshowaa via Compfight

  • FROM LIFE’S FIRST CRY TO FINAL BREATH

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Story, Theology

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    2006-08-26 Mourning pretty

    In Christ alone my hope is found
    He is my light, my strength, my song
    This Cornerstone, this solid ground
    Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

     

    The Lion King taught be a great lesson, it taught me that life and death are intertwined in this world.  Lions eat the antelope, lions die and feed the grass, and the antelope eat the grass.  Yes dear reader, there is a circle of life that moves us all (and you now have the song is stuck in your head).

    In Scripture, we are told that the pain of death is something that we cannot escape.  It is always there, lingering on the sidelines of life.  As the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it, there’s a time to live and a time to die.  In my case, there’s a time for the birth of my daughter and a time for the death of my grandmother.  Readers, life is strange like that.

    No guilt in life, no fear in death
    This is the power of Christ in me
    From a life’s first cry to final breath
    Jesus commands my destiny

    Recently, I lost somebody who impacted my early life.  My grandma helped form who I am in Christ.  One thing I remember vividly was when she picked me and my brother up from school and took us to the Peppertree Frosty to get an ice cream cone.  I remember sitting in her car, eating that cone as she began telling us stories.  She told us stories about how Abram was called from the land of his fathers and how he journeyed with God, eventually taking on the new name Abraham.  She told us about Ruth and how she became a key part of the lineage of Jesus.  She told us about David and how he was a man who followed God even with imperfections.  

    She recounted the stories of people who followed after God.  While eating ice cream, she embedded into me the tales of faith and how imperfect people could follow after Him.

    No power of hell, no scheme of man
    Could ever pluck me from His hand
    Til He returns or calls me home
    Here in the power of Christ I stand

     

    When my grandma was laid to rest next to my grandpa, I was reminded about how all I can do in this world is build a legacy in others.  I can leave behind a life of faith that was given to others.  A life of faith that was poured into the lives of family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.  As Bonhoeffer would suggest, life together with others is only made better through being united in Christ.*

    From the (soon to be) first cry of my daughter, to the final breath of my grandmother, I will trust in the assurance that in Christ alone I can put my hope.  That it is in his assurance of life, that I can leave a legacy of faith to others.  I can point them to the great story of how God pursued his people when they chose to walk away in the Garden.  And we are invited to join this story, a story made even better with an ice cream cone.

    _______________

    * For more in depth exploration of this, see my four part series on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together that can be found here.

    Photo: Henning Mühlinghaus via Compfight

  • ON HIATUS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Story

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    A Path, St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Abbassiyah, Cairo

    Dear readers and perusers-

    This blog will be paused this coming week for a time of mourning.  My grandmother, Dorothy Bremerthon, went to be with Christ and my grandpa in glory.   It has been a tough few days, but I know that she has passed through the valley of the shadow of death, and now is beside the still waters and green pastures (as Psalm 23 comfortingly describes).  But it still sucks.  Prayers are appreciated for my family.

    The Psalms helped all in the room centered on the covenant keeping faithfulness of the LORD,  and Psalm 121 especially helped me.

    I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
     
    He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
    Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
     
    The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
    The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
     
    The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
    The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.
    Psalm 121
     

    Grandma, rest in the peace of Christ our Savior.

    Photo: Andrew A. Shenouda via Compfight