Together In The End

I am posting this for Lutheran Lady, Barbara, who is a member of our congregation.  I hope you enjoy her heartfelt message.

Fifty-five years ago we moved eighty-eight miles away from our families, and since that time we have gone back to gather with family and friends for various occasions.

Other than our return for weddings, graduations and baptisms, funerals seem to draw us back far more frequently as we return to offer our condolences to those whose loved ones have gone to glory.

Each time I stand in a funeral home with the clan and friends of the family, I am so very aware of the “coming togetherness” among the mourners.  Relationships, which were often estranged, seem to morph into something more than mere civility in a sad situation. Forgiveness and genuine empathy replace anger and bitterness, and very often emerge into a lasting love and friendship.

I’ve often wondered whether others are impacted as am I by the coming together with one another and wonder what it means. In his book, The Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul states:

“Death often frightens us. When we see another person die, we are reminded that we are also mortal, that someday death will come to us. It is a thought we try to push from our minds. We are uncomfortable when another’s death rudely intrudes into our lives and reminds us of what we will face at some unknown future date. Death reminds us that we are creatures. Yet as fearsome as death is, it is nothing compared with meeting a holy God. When we encounter Him, the totality of our creatureliness breaks upon us and shatters the myth that we have believed about ourselves, the myth that we are demigods, junior-grade deities who will try to live forever.”

I’m sure that many people who attend funerals come because it is expected of them and they do their duty by attending.  But as they move and interact with others, I believe God is doing a wondrous, maybe even miraculous work among them. Who but God knows – maybe the timing of the deceased is an important factor for relationships that need healing.  Perhaps the pastor’s message enlightens attendees who finally realize that time is of the essence for saying, “I’m sorry” or “forgive me.”

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” An abundant life most certainly includes a life of peace, love, forgiveness and unity. It truly warms my heart to see the clan gather as one people under God. As the memorial service follows the viewing, and the words of scripture are read, I am grateful for the pastor’s opportunity to remind us all to: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col: 3: 13-14).  And as we recite the Lord’s Prayer TOGETHER, may we pray in all sincerity, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Mt: 6:12.

May each funeral we attend wake us up to the fact that we are all God’s children and we are all in this place together. We will all one day die and hopefully ALL meet on the golden shore to love God and each other forever.

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Create in me…

Create in mePsalm 51 is David’s cry to the Lord for forgiveness.  It’s one of my favorite passages in the Psalms.  David has just realized his sins against the Lord, which happen to include adultery and murder.

I don’t see myself as a “bad” person.  I’m basically good.  I work everyday, try to be nice to all I meet.  I pay my bills, go to church, put money in the collection plate.  I’m usually slow to anger, letting others be who they are.  So why would I need to repent?  How sinful can a good person be?

I don’t want to think that I’m sinful.  It’s our culture, it’s in the world.  If I am basically good, I’m OK, I’m a “good” person.  But even with what I described above,  God considers me sinful.  What about those thoughts that I don’t act on?  What about the “self-talk” that goes on in my head?  God knows those thoughts.  Paul says in Romans:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:18-20

I need to come before the Lord daily and pray this Psalm.  God knows my heart and if I come before Him, with a contrite heart and pray, He can do wonderful things in my life.  Do you want to join me?

I Can Only Imagine

I just finished watching the movie, I Can Only Imagine.  I don’t think it’s an accident that the next adult Sunday School lesson I’ll be teaching is from the book of Romans and titled “The Transformed Life.” God does that to me all the time! Bart Miller’s story is one of transformation, redemption, forgiveness, hope and most of all music.  His father was abusive and angry, his mother left, and for young Bart, music anchored him, lifted him up, and gave him a dream.  I won’t say more, because you should see this film for yourself.  You’ve probably heard the song, but it’s worth another listen:

 

Am I Sorry or Repentant?

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Culler gave a sermon on repentance. Now being a Christian, this is probably not an earth shaking topic, right? Well, for some reason after listening to what he said I was struck by the fact that I often say I am sorry but did that mean I was repentant? It is hard to look inside ourselves and admit that we are not living our lives like we should, but I am finding out on my journey that it does not get easier, it gets even harder when you realize the huge sacrifice that was made and how little, sometimes, we appreciate it.

To be repentant means that you will turn away and change your life – have I always done that? Absolutely NOT, As a matter of fact, in retrospect I find that I have rarely been repentant, just sorry. Big difference.

However, being a Christian is about learning and growing and being a little better each day, so my next resolution is to actually think before I say I am sorry and instead learn to be more truly repentant and not just give lip service to the situation.

I am sure that I will fall, but at least I know that I can reach for my brother Jesus’ hand and He will pull me back up on the narrow path that I seem to wobble off of, a lot.

How have you approached being repentant on matters? Have you ever found yourself just saying I am Sorry to get someone off your back?

Share with me your thoughts on the subject – I am All ears or in this case EYES HAHA

Always remember

God Loves You And So Do I
Michele

A Family Prayer

This prayer by Rev. R.H. Raasch is from The Lutheran Prayerbook.

O Lord, I thank you for my family.  You have created our lives and intentionally brought us together to live in our home.  It is within the family relationship that we learn how to share Your gifts of love, forgiveness and mercy.  It is here, in our home, that we learn to be patient, as You are patient;  compassionate, as You are compassionate;  and caring, as You care for us.  Bless our relationships that we may serve You here in our home and when we go out into Your world.  In the mighty name of Jesus we pray.  Amen

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Come To The Table

I have recently been hearing this song on the radio and it strikes a chord deep inside – Remember He came for the sick and sinful – of which I am one. So come join me at His table I look forward to seeing you there.

“Come To The Table”

We all start on the outside
The outside looking in
This is where grace begins
We were hungry, we were thirsty
With nothing left to give
Oh the shape that we were in
Just when all hope seemed lost
Love opened the door for us

He said come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table

Come meet this motley crew of misfits
These liars and these thiefs
There’s no one unwelcome here
So that sin and shame that you brought with you
You can leave it at the door
Let mercy draw you near

Come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table

To the thief and to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young and to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last and all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream and all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained and all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who have been labeled right or wrong
To everyone who hears this song

Ooh
Come to the table
Come join the sinners you have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Oooh
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table
Just sit down and rest a while
Just sit down and rest a while
Come to the table

Credit for song to Sidewalk Prophets