Sunday, November 11, 2007


My Death
Half spent the waning moon,
misery my only companion.
Drip drip the blood goes,
flowing from my open wrists.

Musing with my final breaths,
wondering what to make of heaven,
wondering what to make of life,
as it flows onto the ground.

Unloving mother and careless friends?
Guilt over sin and sorrow over death?
No these are not the reasons:
God is the reason of my last breath.

Neglecting creator, and hateful father,
tempting seductress and dry spring,
lying of love and joy,
revealing pain and agony.

Send my soul to oblivion,
neither to deceiving heaven,
nor to burning hell,
to nothingness I go.

Drip drip, flows the stream,
ebbing life, dying soul,
drip drip, darkness enclose...
God is that you?

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Col 4:7-17

L: A reading from Paul's letter to the Colossians: Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow-servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts; he is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.

Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him. And Jesus who is called Justus greets you. These are the only ones of the circumcision among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills. For I testify for him that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, ‘See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.’

L: The word of the....
(1 jumps up and raised hand in interruption)

L: Excuse me, this is church not class, you can't just jump up with your hand raised and interrupt!

1: but I have a question.

L: (exasperated) Fine what is your question?

1: (with air of victory) so what?

L: huh?

1: so what? Why did you read that, what does that have to do with us?

L: It's the Word of the....

(1 interrupts again)

1: Don't say that! If you say that everyone will say thanks be to God and then we'll move on in the service and I'll never understand why we read the passage.

L: Fine explain your question.

1: What does this passage have to do with us? I certainly dont have any friends named Tick-us, or Once-in-moose, or Epras...I have a friend named Mark but he's not the cousin of Barnabas, and what about Arch-supports....

L:(interrupting) Well despite the criminal slaughter of the names, you're kind of right. This passage seems very focused on a certain people at a certain time. So what does this have to do with us.....lets read the verse afterwards and see if it sheds some light....

L: Verse 18 of Colosians 4: “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”

(expectant pause)

1: um you can continue anytime now....

L: The Word...

(1 interrupts)

1: NO!!! Stop doing that! And you haven't even finished the reading!

L: That's how it ends.

1: What? It doesn't explain the verses before it? Nor carry a message? Man this ending stinks! Who does this guy think he is!

L: Um Paul, the author of a good chunk of the New Testament.

1: (sarcastic) Oh Good clearly then it makes sense then since its Paul

L: Well then, the Word of the....

1: Stop that!

L: (exasperated) When will you let me finish?

1: When you explain it to me! Paul just keeps on talking about these hard to pronounce names and how they're faithful ministers, encourager's, servants, and a comfort to him. What does that have to do with us?

L: (distracted and murmuring) “since we are surround by such a great cloud of witnesses...”

1: what?

L: Oh I was just thinking of a different verse in the New Testament....(seeing despair in 1's face)
one not written by Paul. Hebrews 12 actually.

1: Hebrews? That explains the weird names!

L: Actually those names are Greek, and I'm talking about the book, not the culture or language.

1: Ok so what about this cloud? Are we talking cirrus or cumulus?

L: What?

1: Not a met major I guess. Well cirrus and cumulus are two classifications of clouds....

L: (interrupting) THE WORD....

1: Ach! Stop that! You still haven't answered my question!

L: Well if you'd stop getting distracted.

1: I am not getting...oh look a pond

L and 1 walk over to the Baptismal Font

L: This is the baptismal font, not a pond....and thinking about it I think this can help answer your questions about the reading.

1: Um, I dont think it can talk

L: No no no....what I mean is this: In the waters of Baptism we are initiated into the body of Christ, into the great cloud of witnesses....(seeing 1 about to interrupt) and no I dont know whether its a cirrus or cumulus....but continuing on. Along with the initiation into the body of Christ grace is mediated to us through the water and the word....

1: AHH you just tried to trick me and say the phrase which cant be said until I understand!

L: No I didn't stop interrupting. I am trying to help you. When God's grace is mediated to us we are changed by it, we are given new freedom to turn from our sinful and selfish self, drown it in the waters of baptism and rise a new with Christ. And given the death of Self in the waters of baptism we are freed to love one another, to encourage, support, and care for others.

1: Like the people in the reading with the weird Hebrew names.

L: Right but the names are Greek, not Hebrew.

1: So this section of Paul's letter, which at first seems unimportant to us, is actually like a case study in the Christian life?

L: Right, and Paul ends saying grace be with you, as an invocation of the grace which inspired them to service.

1: Well I guess it makes sense now....

L: Finally! The Word of the....

1 interrupts

1: Wait!

L: what I thought you understood?

1: I did but I just thought of something!

L: Oh no not again....

1: Grace be with you!

L: The Word of the Lord

Monday, September 3, 2007

Job complex

Complaint and Response
Tormented by visions of my sin,
by the God who is never 'in',
prayers unanswered,
arguments unrebutted.
Where are you God?

Death and sorrow 'round on every hand,
guilt too great to even stand,
sin and pain addicted
God in my eyes not acquitted,
Where are you God?

I cry my complaint before you,
Hoping you never knew,
that help you were unable,
and not that you are sadism culpable,
Where are you God?

Where are you worm?
When I the stars and galaxies form?
Where were you when I hung on the tree,
that you did not have to live without me?
I AM here!

Can you understand the foundations of the earth?
Or alone have the miracle of birth?
Can you make a tree sprout and grow,
or command the wind which way to blow?
I AM here!

Where am I you ask?
Father eternal in Glory bask,
Son begotten before the throne pleading,
Spirit within guiding, leading,
Three in one, trinity, here I AM!

Monday, August 27, 2007


The coming week is the first full week of the new academic year. As students we are beginning to get into the rhythm of classes and of homework. If you are new to valpo you are beginning to find extra curricular groups to join, and if you are returning you are fitting back into old familiar places. The next few weeks are a time of getting settled into a rhythm of university life. For some of us this rhythm is old and comfortable, and for others it is new and exciting, but whatever the rhythm is I challenge you to get into a rhythm of daily prayer and contemplation. For centuries monks have prayed the Divine Hours, praying seven times a day, in a continual rhythm giving thanks and praise to the God who created us, who redeemed us, and who sustains us. While praying seven times in today’s hectic world sounds crazy, we can gain some help by just intentionally praying once or twice a day, and reading some scriptures. As you begin to get into your college rhythm leave some room for God, and I am sure you will not be disappointed by the good gifts which come from his gracious hand.

Good Stewards of God's Grace

A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels: they go down to a man’s inmost parts.
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.
Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

4Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,* arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), 2so as to live for the rest of your earthly life* no longer by human desires but by the will of God. 3You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme.* 5But they will have to give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

7 The end of all things is near;* therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1: Hey! Welcome back! Oh my gosh, I missed you so much!
2: I missed you so much, too! How was your summer?
1: Oh, you know…
2: Busy?
1: Busy. You?
2: Busy.
1: Yeah.
2: Yeah.

3: Today’s hymn will be Hymn #333.

(Pause. They get out their hymnals.)

1: So did you hear about Bobby and Susy?
2: No, what?
1: They’re engaged.
2: (grimacing) …Really? I didn’t know they liked each other that much.
1: Tell me about it.
2: That’s like the 6th couple to get engaged, and the school year hasn’t even started.
1: (agreeing) Yeah. It’s like an epidemic already.

3: Proverbs 18, Verses 7-12. A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.

1: Are you talking to me?
3: No this is the reading for today
2: (whispered to 1) You always think its about you

3: The words of a gossip are like choice morsels: they go down to a man’s inmost parts.

2: Hey whats the big idea!
1: yeah why are you talking down on us?
3: I’m not, its what the reading says, you can see for yourself.
1 and 2 walk up to the lecturn

1: Huh, he’s(she’s) right.
2: Sorry about interrupting
3: No problem, these proverbs are really depressing….you know what lets see what the other reading is

3: Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.

2: That wasn’t much better.
1: I’m confused… licentiousness? License…lice….why is he talking about lice?
2: No that’s not what he’s saying here, the NIV reads “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.”
1: Drunkeness? But valpo is a dry campus

3: I think you’re both missing the point. Christ suffered in the flesh for our sins, and we are to imitate Christ, for whoever suffers in the flesh ceases to sin. We are to cease to live for our Earthly passions and desires—for the flesh—and to now live for the will of God.
2: But what does that have to do with snares and morsels and a city?
1: What?
2: From the first reading!
1: There was more than one?

3 sensing a dead end
3: Yes there were two readings, one from proverbs, and one from 1 Peter entitled in my Bible ‘Stewards of God’s Grace”. Hmm, interesting…

3 stares off into space thinking
1: I think he’s left us
1 pokes 3 lightly
2: Oh stop it. Why do you always have to be so stupid!
1: Why do you always think being wealthy makes you so smart.
2: Its not my fault that being worth millions allows me to go to the best schools

3: (exclaiming excitedly) I got it!!
1 and 2 jump in shock as 3 runs to the lecturn

3: (reading) The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.
Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

3: (to 1 and 2) Get it?

1: No
2: not at all

3: (excitedly) Good stewards, wealth, city, humility, love, grace glory!

1 slaps 3 and shakes him
1: Snap out of it man!

3 dislodges him self disgruntedly
3: The second reading ends with: “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

2: Still don’t get it.
3: Ok the proverb talks all about how foolishness leads to destruction, and how righteousness leads to honor, and in the proverb the foolishness is always the misuse of something whether money or time, or words.
1: Ok, so what does that have to do with what you just read?

3: The passage in 1 Peter is talking all about stewardship, about the proper use of the gifts which God has given us. The proper use of our love
1: to cover a multitude of sins
3: the proper use of material wealth
2: be hospitable
3: the proper use of our words
1: to speak the words of God
2: and the proper use of his grace
3: to Glorify him through Jesus Christ.

3: We are called to be Good stewards of God’s Grace, to be good stewards of all his gifts, to use them for his will, his purpose and his Glory. Not our own.

1: We live “so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

3: Thanks be to God.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I need thee

I need thee every hour,
oh I need thee every hour,
I cannot live but for thee,
thy light and love,
my guide and stay,
what but thine power,
can foil the tempters mast'ry?

All around temptation stands,
I'm surronded by sins of thought and deed,
acts of hate and greed,
lust and loathing,
pain and pleasure,
Oh Lord save me from my sin!

Oh thy grace!
what can repay thy love?
what can e'er match thine sacrafice?
what gift have I to offer,
but a soul of quite greatfulness,
resigned to thine will and thine alone,
Oh God grant me your will!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Righteous Judgement

Evil lives in the knowledge that it will be destroyed, it lives to die, while righteousness lives for Christ which is Life eternal. Satan exists with the constant knowledge that his doom is assured, and his damnation total. God has judged him, condemned him and one day when we are made righteous we will join God in condemning him and we will rejoice and glorify in our enemies total and utter defeat in the fiery pits of hell. God has redeemed and bought us through His Holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism. We are no longer merely creatures of God who cannot take part in His existance and His plan, instead we are now children of God with his will before us in the incarnation of His Word and we are able to participate with him in his redemption of the world.
God so loved us the he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. But that life is not just an artefact to be had after death, it is a gift given to us in this life. A new Life, Zoe, one which does not perish when this body dies but one which has the mark of the incarnate God within. God dwells within us through the Holy Spirit, and we live a life in the already present reality of evil's defeat. Even while we mourn the poor, we feast with them at the Lamb's high feast, even as we clean leprous sores, we rejoice in bodies made whole, and even while we comfort the grieving heart we rejoice in the resurrection. Christ has died, Christ is risen!, and Christ will come again, even as we are Christ to one another. Amen

Thursday, March 29, 2007


The enlightenment was meant to promote reason, to dispel foolish superstitions, to elevate the mind....and seemingly all it has done is to destroy all remnants of reason and elevate emotional arguements. The enlightenment failed, it was those thinkers in the history of the church: Augustine, Athanasius, Aquinas; they brought humanity to the height of their intellect, and all the demythologization of the world has done has to throw humanity into its darkest depths.
All who think the world is getting better, all the post-millenialist, they are all fools who have their eyes closed to the truth: that the world is falling more and more into disarray, and unless God intervenes man will become the animal he never was meant to be. O woe to us who live in the decline of humanity!

A Devotion on James

“If a brother of sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit” James 2:15-16
The common interpretation of this passage from James is that words are worthless without the deeds to back them up, in this case that we should care for the poor and needy by providing food, clothing and shelter, rather than just saying words to them. While this is a salutary reading, I would like to posit another reading for your consideration.
Quite often Christians give to charities both in monetary gifts, and donations of food and clothing, and while this is good, I think James may be talking of this practice in this passage. What good is it for us to give the poor food if we are just going to send them away? Not all the needs of the poor are needs of food, clothing and shelter. There is just as much need in the poor for human companionship, and recognition of them as human beings. It is far easier for us to give money, and never spend a moment with a poor individual then it is for us to go to where they are, into the slums, dirty and smelly, and spend time with them. What good is it brothers and sisters in Christ if we merely give to the poor as charity cases? Even the pagans do that! But Christ came not to feed the poor and clothe the naked. No he came to restore all humanity into relationship with one another and with him. Christians are called to treat the poor as Christ; we are called to be in relationship with them. Not just to feed them and send them on their way. Christ ate with sinners and tax collectors, and that is what James is calling us to do.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Oh how sorrowful is this lie we lead, which holds a moment but too quick, and pain for so long. A world where everything dwindles away and is destroyed, where what we make returns to dust, and what we long for sinks away into the ignominy of ceasless time. Works of art may last a bit longer that the work of toil, but they do not buy bread. If we are to live this life we must die to eternal hopes of fame, and to reach for fame, is to die this life we are gien to lead. Trapped into the endless cycle of destruction we are once again, no escape except for the grace of God, through the person of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


We are all broken. We are all living in a broken world, a world of hurt and sorrow, a world of addiction and sin, a world in which we do not do what we want to do, and we do that which we loathe to do. what wretched man that I am!

Oh God!!! Are you a deceptive brook? a white washed tomb!? Are you a siren leading men to their doom? Oh LORD where art thou! Where is thy holy redemption!?

Baby boys who hate their mothers, fathers who drink away the pain, brothers who run away, and sisters broken by the pain of fame. Sorrow, oh sorrow stands around on every hand, no escape from this misearble existance where men exploit others for greed and pleasure, sex is but commodity to be marketed and sold, love is a universal that can be swapped at will, truth is marginalized to minimize conflict, and conflict rises over too little food....Oh LORD!! How broken are we! How horribly destroyed screwed up and worthless are we. Save Me Oh God! Save me from my sinful wretchedness! Save me from all the pain and sorrow that I cause, save me from the broken relationships, and ignored brothers....Save me from myself of Lord! Father forgive! For I have no excuse I am an abusive, arrogant, loathsome addict who does not even know all the sins which I commit......OH DEAR GOD! FATHER FORGIVE!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Homily on Home

A reading from the fourteenth chapter of the gospel according to John: “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”(John 14:2)
Welcome back! I am assuming most of you went home for some portion of the break, and I am sure that each experience was different, and that to try and make generalizations is rather difficult, but I want to tell you about my break.
I only was home for one week of the break as for the first portion my family and I went on a vacation to the Caribbean, and the last week was spent in Iowa, but my experience at either place isn't what I want to tell you about, I want to talk about home...or rather where my parents live.
I say where my parents live because I can no longer consider it my home. Pastor Jim likes to describe this experience by forming two categories. One is that your parents essentially enshrine your room, leaving everything in place including the dirty laundry and the half eaten pizza, the other is that they change the locks and turn your room into a sewing room. Either way, or even in between what you once knew as home is no longer home. Some of your parents may let you know that it isn't home anymore by turning your room into a sewing room, or they may not let you know and clutch onto the idea that the child coming home, is the child who left for college months before.
My parents chose the middle path. They left my room the same, and just changed everything about the house. The kitchen in which I learned how to cook was remodeled, the front yard where I used to play they redid the landscaping, and my grandmother's room--in which I spent many a nights hearing stories from my grandma--they turned into a study.
The house that used to be home was different, and that was just the empirical loss of home. When I returned for the first time freshmen year I found that my parents expected me to have not changed. They treated me the same as before I left, and this caused much hostility. I felt more responsible since I had lived for several months away from them, but my parents did not treat me as though I had matured, and thought me still an irresponsible high schooler. While my experience may be an extreme example, everyone who grows up goes through some level of this angst. No matter how good of a parent, parents always have some amount of desire for their children to stay their children and not to grow up and go out on their own. For some of us it is a very painful experience becoming free, for others it is not that hard, but everyone who grows up experiences the tension.
The loss of home hinges on this natural result of change. If we consider home to be more than just our household, and let it incorporate the town in which we grew up in, we see even more the loss of home.
In a disgusting display of white flight, and consummerism my town destroyed several forests to raise up condos and strip malls. Trees and the natural landscape which I was used to was wiped out for cold lifeless concrete structures. What had brought me joy was wiped out by the bitter juggernaut of American capitalism. Along with the loss of landscape came the loss of friends. I do not mean loss of friends in a negative sense of the word, but loss as in a distancing because we are growing up. My friends went to other schools and met new people, and I met new people, and while we were still able to hang out it was no longer like it used to be. Our friendship had changed. Along with the nature of friendship changing, came a change of necessity. As we grow older, we need more money, and so we had to work more. No longer were we able to hang out like we used to because work interfered.
My parents house, the town I grew up in, my friends, all had changed in such a way that it was no longer home for me. So where is home? I could say valpo is now my home, but I know that once I graduate the same thing will happen. It is the nature of growing older and change that what we think of as home ceases being home over time. So why do we care so much about where is home? Why is it such a big deal to us?
“In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
The second verse of the Hymn “I'm but a stranger here” reads like this:

What though the tempest rage,
Heaven is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage,
Heaven is my home;
And time’s wintry blast
Soon shall be over past;
I shall reach home at last,
Heaven is my home.

Well we have found the answer to where is home. Heaven is home. That's nice but what does that mean? It means we weren't built to stay, we weren't made for here.
The author of Ecclesiastes says “God has placed eternity in the hearts of men”, we are not made for here, we are made for eternity. There is a cliché saying that “Home is where the heart is” and how true it is when we realize that eternity is within our hearts. Our home is in eternity, our home is in heaven. We long for home here so much, and look for home but we will never find it here, we can only look forward to that day when Christ calls us home, when Christ comes and takes us to the place he prepared for us.
So we are left with a desire for home, we are left for a longing that cannot be met. While this may sound hopeless, there is hope. I would like to read you something for CS Lewis' novel The last Battle as the Narnians enter the new Narnia:
It was the unicorn....

What we find here on Earth reflects the eternity, which is in our heart. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
With a platonic reminiscence we are presented with a reflected image of reality. What we see, feel, touch, taste and smell is nothing but an image of the real, and a vague shadowy one at that. We cannot see the real, for to see the real is to escape the image, to see the real is to either be utterly destroyed as the truth bears down upon our sin, or for us to be taken up into the deity and become truly human for the first time while also transcending humanity and becoming sons of God. The Gnostics taught that spirit was good and matter was evil, but what we teach is that this matter here is but a poorly formed image of real matter, matter which if we but touch it we are also pulled into the real. And here is hope, that here on Earth, while strangers in a foreign land there are signs pointing our way home. All the Earth, the universe, everything we know points us towards the ultimate reality, the ultimate truth. That burning fire which withers away all that is sin, all that is sorrow, all that is death and imbues the life which does not end, the light which casts no shadows, and the reality that makes us children of God.
If you find joy and happiness in something here on this Earth, do not cease with just that object, but realize what that object points too. Also in this way, if you look at what used to be your home, and feel sorrow over the loss, rejoice that the mere trinket of happiness you may have experienced is but an image of the joy which you will find in Heaven.
These words of hope are not just platitudes; they are not a call to mercenary Christianity, which seeks only pleasure and security. No these words condemn us for every time we ever were content with what we have. If ever we were content with what this world offers. We are condemned for stopping at the image and not moving onto the object. If we would but hold lightly the things of this world, accepting that they are merely signs, then we would find that they become more. If we clutch onto what we think is happiness, if we clutch onto our idea of home, and do not let go, we will kill the happiness that we once found. The sweet wine will turn to vinegar, and you will be left with neither the real nor the image. But if we do not accept the image, if we strive for the real, the odd thing is that the image will begin to grow more clearly, the thing we thought beautiful at first will blossom and show us new beauty. If we but merely hold loosely what we want, what we think will bring us happiness, and allow God to sanctify those things around us through the painful process of change we will find that we not only do we have the images, but that we have the things themselves.

A homily on Death

It is a pleasure to stand here before you, to experience what it is like to be down here rather than up there. I am going to speak to you today about a subject which some of you may have experienced, others of you have not but one day will. I am talking about that experience common to all mankind, death.
My grandmother is dying. I am seeing death steal her away before my eyes, and I see the horror of that wretched result of sin. Her eyes lull unaware, her mind is dulled as the icy clutches of that ancient foe, slowly entangle her. A woman once vibrant, loving and energetic turned to lay in bed, weak, defenseless and helpless. How I long to share a conversation as I once did with her? How I long to come home and see her cooking dinner, and feel her embrace? How much I long for things that will never be again, for things that are now only memories? For those of you who have experienced this, you know the pain, for those who have not yet experienced, you one day will. I hope to give those already suffering some comfort, and those yet to face a loved one dying—some advice.
I would like to read you a verse, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” In Christ we need not have to fear death for we know that it is not the end. Instead we know that death is a beginning, the beginning of perfection, the beginning of a new life with God in which we ever see his face.
This knowledge is comforting for those of us who have had, or someday will have loved ones dying slowly and painfully, for what God promises us after death is no more sorrow, and no more pain. In Revelation 21:3-4 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." There will be no more death, no more pain, what comfort it is to know that those whom we love and see slowly dying are going to a place where they will no longer feel any pain?
But what about us? What about those of us left here on earth, hurt, aching, and longing for sweet moments to be spent with those gone? Well its not really about us, its never really about us, it is always about other people, because that is how we are called to live as Christians. But just because we are called to be loving does not mean that we will never be sad. If you are sad about a loved ones death, than you are in very very good company, perfect company to be exact. John 11:32-36
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
Jesus loved Lazarus, he was the son of God, and easily raised Lazarus from the dead but a few moments later, yet Jesus wept. Jesus wept over Lazarus’ death even though he knew perfectly well Lazarus would rise. Sadness over a loved ones death is not a sign of weakness, nor a sign of a lack of faith, instead, it is the mark of the sinful world in which we life, one that even our creator cried over. Jesus knows the pain of losing a loved one, Jesus understands what we go through, and he is there for us. We are not alone to suffer through difficult times such as a loved ones death, we have the company not only of all sinful humanity, but also the company of the one perfect human to ever life. Sorrow over death, and our own dying characterizes what it means to be human, rising from the grave is what it means to be God. Praise be to Jesus that he was both God and man—that he may know our sorrow, and provide a hope for tomorrow. I would like to read you a poem before closing. It is titled Oh Lazarus:
Oh Lazarus
Oh Lazarus how wane and pale,
Thy face has slowly grown,
As thy breathing began to fail,
And you uttered your funeral groan.

Weep Mary, Martha Weep,
Thy lord has stayed to late,
Life has from Lazarus already seep,
And set his dire fate.

Lord how easy would it be to heal him,
At thy word lepers clean and blind see,
Yet you let his health wear too slim,
And his life has ceased to be.

Rush Mary rush to the Lord,
“Lord if you had been here,
If only you had been here,
My brother would not have died.

Cry Martha, Wail Mary,
Weep the Jews all in sorrow,
For Lazarus four days buried,
he will ne’er see tomorrow.

And sympathy and sorrow fill the Lord,
The creator of all life eyes turn to tears,
Sharper than any doubled edged sword,
As he mourns the result of sin through the years.

In sorrow Jesus move to the tomb,
Where dread death had held Lazarus cold,
In the foggy mist of time’s gloom,
“Lazarus come out” shout Jesus bold.

Slowly from the rotten grave,
Lazarus four days dead arrives,
Covered in funeral clothes,
Breathing as well as perfect health.

Mary Martha weep no more!
Thy brother lives, he lives again,
Jesus reigns over life and death,
He lives he lives!!

When Over Sin I Sorrow

When over sin I sorrow,
And look to God for hope to borrow,
I weep at my wretched state,
And pray that God’s grace not be to late.

When buried under loads of work,
Within hideous doubt always lurk,
I sigh in bitter defeat,
And you lift me up off my feet.

As I strain to stave off sin,
I hopeless, see the devil’s grin,
And submit to sin commit,
But through it your love transmit.

When all the world seems to wail,
Under sins crushing weight flail,
I remember your love and grace,
And in evil I now see your face.

I see your face, tears in eyes,
For one who sins dies,
But gracious you are,
And you announce it by a star.

Two-thousand years ago a son born,
Who everyone would scorn,
Strip, beat, and hang upon a cross,
Gawking as his life loss.

But then with triumphant cry,
The son of God die,
To hell descended,
And finally to heaven ascended.

And so no longer sin be a crushing weight,
Because of God’s love great,
We can live as mean reborn,
Not as shells forlorn.

In Christ

When I lay under sins crushing weight,
With no rest into the nights hours late,
I ponder a love so great, so divine,
That I weep to think one day it will be mine.

When I struggle to live sanctified,
And find no hope in that I am justified,
I look to God with weeping eyes,
And see that all hope at his feet lies.

When all the world around me crumble,
And my life through time a hopeless tumble,
Upon the hill which my lord had died,
I sacrifice all my vain and heavy pride.

When death and decay surround me,
And everything disappears except for thee,
In thy quiet Easter morning hours,
I rest assured in thy resurrected powers.

Then with you in my heavenly home,
Experiencing for the first time a love I had known,
All my life falls beneath my thought,
As I experience the joy I had sought.

Ash Wednesday

What is Man, O Lord, that you came and died for him? Was there beauty that you sought to save, was there capability, or grace or joy that needed thy salvation? No! There was nothing! For out of the dust we came and to the dust we shall return! We are nothing but dust, there is no beauty, there is no redeeming grace, there is only sin, desolation and loathesome selfeshness within the heart of man. We sin against you, and against one another daily, we are slaves to our own inordinate desires, we are purely selfish beings who do nothing for Other, and everything for Self. It would be best if we had never been born, but we have been born, and so it would be better for us to be cast into eternal damnation then to continue on in our wretched sinfulness.

But for some reason that cannot be comprehended by reason you came to earth and died upon a cross! You, the infinite good, came to earth and became sin, tainted thyself in a disgusting display of the consequence of our sin. You, O most Holy and Precious Lord, were nailed to the tree by my sin, by my own most grievous sin. You had to die because of me. The immortal had to become death, the sinless had to become sin, hope had to become sorrow, and love had to become selfishness so that my own wretched soul should not perish in the fires of hell. But that it would! That this wretched soul be cast into the fires of Hell where it belongs, and that you my most Holy Savior and God would not have to die! But you have died, and so I show my gratitude by accepting your grace....but how little this means! I daily turn from you and enslave myself to that which you bought me from, I return to the vomit of my youth, and I daily forget thee and thy grace, and yet you still continue to grant me grace! Why O God hath thou shown such imcomprehensible, infinite love to such a wretch as I? Glory be to Jesus! Thou art all, and none but thou art!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


What must God think when our poems to him have become short and shallow? Our prayers long and pointless? Our worship a rock concert? O Lord where have Bach, Ambrose, Luther, and Bernard of Clairvaux gone? Where have the great poets who praised you with the full beauty of language, and the full glory of belief?
Now we have songs that repeat the same phrase over and over, words which a child could have written! Shallow shouts of praise with no declaration of your worthiness to be praised! Do you O Lord accept the praise of those who do not know why to praise you? Do you accept the praise of a sinner who does not know their sinfulness? Are you O Lord merely a selfish being who just wants our praise? Or are you the loving, almighty, and ever living God which Christians preached for centuries, or are you the get rich scheme that is preached today?
O Lord, may I ever be mindful of my sin and shame that I may always remember why you are worthy of praise. May I surrender over my soul over to you for the purging fire, and not merely spew forth meaningless babble which makes others feel good. I would rather suffer the pangs of Hell and have you as you are, then have the joys of heaven and have a lie.