About jculler1972

My husband is the pastor of St. Paul's Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, Maryland. I have two grown daughters and a granddaughter and am retired after a career in Purchasing. I have published articles in The Lutheran Ambassador, Lutheran Witness, and Lutheran Digest. My Bible study on the Book of Acts was published in 2016 by the Women's Missionary Federation of the AFLC(Association of Free Lutheran Churches).

Castastrophe or Eucatastrophe?

My husband and I love words, and I love learning new words.  Somebody once said use a word three times in a sentence, and you’ve made it yours.  So today I’ve learned a new word, and I’ll teach it to you.  I came across it in the biography of C.S. Lewis I recently reviewed, Not a Tame Lion.

Eucastastrophe-a sudden turn of events at the end of a story which ensures that the main character does not meet some terrible, impending, and probable doom.

The word was first coined by the writer, J. R. R. Tolkien (a friend of C.S. Lewis) who affixed the Greek prefix eu, which means good, to catastrophe.  It referred to the “unraveling” of a drama’s plot in an unexpectedly favorable way. (Note to English majors:  this is similar to ‘deus ex machina” but has subtle differences I won’t go into here).

For example, someone might experience the “catastrophe” of losing his or her job, only to find that it forced them to consider a new career which was ultimately more fulfilling.  Thus, their catastrophe became a euchastrophe!

Of course, in case you haven’t already deduced the point of my post, the gospel story, as recounted in the Scriptures is the ultimate euchastastrophe.  Tolkien described it this way:

 “The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends with joy … such joy has the very taste of primary truth.”

So consider this:  in the long run, all our catastrophes are eucatastrophes.  Because of our faith, we know that whatever suffering and tribulation happen along the way, our end, our homecoming is secure.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” Rev. 12:3-4

 

 

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Not a Tame Lion–The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry Gaspey–Book Review

This biography of C.S. Lewis is the second I’ve read from the Leaders In Action series recommended by Fanning the Flame.  I chose it because Lewis is a writer (and I’m an English major) and I’m familiar with most of his work.  This book is written with the average reader in mind and doesn’t try to give an academic critique of Lewis as an author.

Lewis was a well-known Christian apologist, who believed that intellect is an important element of our faith.  His own conversion was gradual, as he came to accept that Christianity was not “pie in the sky” but was the religion that made the most sense.  Throughout his writing he tried to provide reasonable, logical answers to those questions people faced in becoming or remaining Christian.  He also wrote fictional works that, like the parables of Jesus, put the tenets of the faith into stories that were easily understood and appealed to both children and adults.  He read widely (another reason I like him), wrote clearly and engagingly and had an astonishing grasp of many subjects.

According to the author, the factors behind Lewis’s success in conveying the Christian message are these:

  1. He emphasized the reasonableness of the gospel, showing that it is based on logic and common sense, not wishful thinking
  2. He used his amazingly detailed imagination to represent the truth of the gospel in fresh ways that spoke to contemporary readers
  3. He demonstrated in both his writing and his personal life that following the gospel was indeed possible and that people can live out the gospel daily

I enjoyed the book, and it made me want to check our the work of C.S. Lewis once again, since I read most of his books when I was much younger.  I might have an entirely new perspective now.  Lewis himself believed in reading good books over and over (not a discipline I’ve developed.)  He is certainly a worthy role model for any Christian writer.

Note to Lutherans:  You will find some differences in Lewis’s theology, particularly related to free will and election

Verdict:  5 stars

Because He Lives

This popular Southern Gospel hymn was written by the Gaithers during a rather traumatic time in their lives.  Bill was ill, and they, along with other members of their church family were facing accusations of using their music to make a profit. Across the country drug abuse and racial tensions were on the rise.  Gloria, particularly felt fearful about bringing their third child into the world.  The Holy Spirit came to her aid, giving her a sense of calm and peace. This song is the result.  It reminds us that through our faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, we can face all the trials and turmoil in our own lives.

Habitual Faith

If we expect our faith to comfort us in times of trial, it must become our habit.  We can’t just pull it out like an umbrella when it rains.  I found this quote in my morning devotional.  It was written by H.E. Manning, who was an English Cardinal of the Roman Catholic church.

“Out of obedience and devotion arises an habitual faith, which makes Him, though unseen, a part of our life.  He will guide us in a sure path, thought it be a rough one:  though shadows hand upon it, yet He will be with us.  He will bring us home at last.  Through much trial it may be, and weariness, in much pain and fainting of heart, in much sadness and loneliness, in griefs that the world never knows, and under burdens that the nearest never suspect.  Yet He will suffice for all.  By His eye or by His voice He will guide us, if we be docile and gentle;  by His staff and by His rod if we wander or are willful:  any how, and by all means, He will bring us to His rest.”

Hello Hailey #2

Meet Hailey, born on Valentine’s Day, 6 lb. 14 oz.  Welcome to the world, Hailey!

Hello Hailey!!!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5a

The birth of our second granddaughter, Hailey has been scheduled for today.  So far, Kate’s pregnancy has been completely normal, and I’m trusting that mother and baby will do just fine.  I’m understandably excited, and part of that excitement is the anticipation of getting to know a whole new person…. someone who is part of me, and of my entire family.  Will she be tall like her cousin, Katelyn?  Will she have a dimple like her mother?  Will she love to read, as I do, or will she prefer to play golf (like her dad)?  Will she be a girly-girl or a tomboy?  Will she grow up to be a teacher, or a writer, or a real estate agent?  All these things are still mine to discover.  Right now, Hailey is a blank slate to me, brand new to my world.

However, Hailey is not new to God.  He knows her already, every speck of her, down to the smallest cell.  Before Hailey existed God already had a plan for her.  There are things she needs to do for Him, things that will affect not only her family, but the entire family of God.  How awesome is that?

Sometimes, as parents (and grandparents) we forget that ultimately our child belongs to God.  We think that we can shape our descendants and mold them into the people we hope they will be.  Too often, it is our own image we want to see in them, not God’s.  So my prayer for Hailey this morning is that she will just be Hailey … the Hailey God  already created and already knows– the person who fits perfectly into His plans. That will be good enough for me.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well”  Psalm 139:14

P.S.  Will post a picture of the new arrival as soon as I get one.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Faith

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes and sayings