Tag Archive for 'death'

Pentecost 13 August 22, 2010

Hebrews 12:18-29                                                             

Luke 13:10-17                                                                     

This week Anne and I were visiting old friends at their summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve known David since we were both 12 at camp – my oldest really good friend. We shared a tent there, roomed together at college, were in each other’s weddings, and have spent time together nearly every summer of our adult lives. This year was different. David was diagnosed last winter with an inoperable brain tumor and has just undergone weeks of arduous radiation and chemotherapy. He’s on a walker, with balance and vision problems. He tires easily. He gained some strength while we were there, but the future prognosis remains uncertain.

In our time together, sitting on his porch looking out at the sea, we reminisced about the past, caught up on our children and grandchildren, shared some thoughts about the state of the world, joked with each other as we always have. But one thing we didn’t talk about was faith, because David doesn’t believe in God; religion has never been part of his life; he has no time or use for it. He’s respectful of it in my life. Indeed, out of the blue he sent a check for $30,000 to help with the building fund for Holy Cross. But God, Christ, Scripture, prayer, church – for him they’re all a delusion, a waste of time, something to be indulged in an old friend perhaps, but not for him.

So for me it was as though a whole dimension were missing in my time with this dear friend. We could not talk about prayer – was Jesus there at all for him in his weakness, his thoughts of death? Was there comfort in the psalms? Things in his past that troubled him, for which he needed healing and forgiveness? What was his hope for the future, for a future beyond death? How did he see his life in terms of God’s kingdom, of Christ’s great dream for humankind? Did his suffering deepen his understanding of the Cross? These are the questions I think I would be exploring if it were I in his place, but to raise them with David would only have been a mockery, and I would never do that to someone I respect and love. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 13 August 22, 2010’

Ash Wednesday February 17, 2010

2 Corinthians 5:20b-21, 6:1-10                                       

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21                                                       

 Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

 We celebrate today two things that are difficult for us: sin and mortality. I remember being on the search committee for a new priest, back before I was ordained myself. We were going through resumes the bishop had sent us and we got to Fr. So-and-So’s. “Discard!” announced a woman on the committee immediately. “I went to a service at his church and he preached on sin.” Moral: don’t talk about sin if you want to get ahead, even in the Church, certainly not in the rest of life.

Mortality, too: who wants to talk about death, particularly their own? Obituaries always note how someone died after a “long struggle” or a “long battle” with whatever disease carried them off. Death is the enemy. Hospitals and hospices are partly places where we hide away the dying so they won’t spoil things for the living. We’ve come a long ways from our ancestors, who prayed in the Great Litany to be delivered from “dying suddenly and unprepared” and saw this life in terms of preparation for death. Continue reading ‘Ash Wednesday February 17, 2010’

Easter Vigil April 11, 2009

O.T. History of Salvation

Romans 6:3-11

Luke 24:1-12

 

Around the church tonight is this wonderful series of quilt-style banners depicting the story of God’s saving work through history. We have six of them now; Nancy Stehno just completed the one over the organ, illustrating a passage from the Book of Proverbs about Wisdom being more precious than gold. Nancy, I hesitate to tell you this, but there are six more we could do, if we draw on both the Episcopal and Revised Common Lectionaries! But, one at a time. That’s the way God works, so you can work that way too.

 

Actually, there could be more than 12 banners. There could be an infinite string of banners, stretching into the future, because God is working out God’s plan of salvation in every one of our lives, in the world around us, in every event in the news—even the terrible ones. Continue reading ‘Easter Vigil April 11, 2009’