Epitaph

TombstoneDuring my first two pastoral appointments, I lived beside church cemeteries. I often visited the graveyards, pausing to read the monuments. The tombstones inspired me to consider my own epitaph.

Possibilities included: Gone But Not Forgotten, Asleep in the Lord, Beloved Husband, Father, and Nobel Prize Winner, or I Told You I Was Sick!

Regardless of the words they grave for me, one day I will not be. Even lines etched deep in granite will weather and fade over time.

However, I will not be forgotten. One will still know me by name. God’s children never perish.

In his classic poem, “Death, Be Not Proud,” John Donne wrote: One short sleep past, we wake eternally, and Death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die.

In a high hymn of hope and praise, the apostle Paul exclaimed: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the good news of the Resurrection. No tombstone marks Jesus’ grave. The first disciples discovered an empty tomb. The angelic proclamation still rings in our ears today: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen, just as he said!”

For my epitaph, simply inscribe my name and the two customary dates. After the year of my death, however, place a comma rather than a period.

Easter reminds us that death is not THE END but a new beginning for all who trust in the Lord.

Things to Do during a Sermon

  • Daydream
  • Post on social media
  • Count the organ pipes
  • Doodle on the bulletins
  • Study the stain glass windows
  • Draw caricatures of the preacher
  • Create a To Do List for next week
  • Rank the worst songs in the hymnal
  • Determine where to eat Sunday lunch
  • Play Hangman with yourself—and cheat
  • Time how long you can hold your breath
  • Tally how many times “just” is used in prayers
  • Check whether the flag and cross stands are straight
  • Furtively play Candy Crush on your muted smart phone
  • Critique the preacher’s annoying hand and speech mannerisms

Or . . .

  • Be where your feet are and hear God’s Word

We choose what things to do during a sermon.

Be Deep-Spirited Friends

Sue Allen serves as the Director of Women’s Ministry at Northside Church. She also publishes a daily devotional that I thoroughly enjoy. With Sue’s permission, I am sharing one of her recent posts.

Good morning . . .

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing . . . not healing, not curing . . . that is a friend who cares.”

This Henri Nouwen quote reminds me of the “Three C” wisdom of the twelve-step program. When pain ravages the life of a loved one, we must remember:

  1. I did not cause it.
  2. I cannot control it.
  3. I do not possess the power to cure it.

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusin, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing . . . not healing, not curing . . . that is a friend who cares.”

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. (Philippians 2:1-2, MSG)

Sue

If you would like to read more of Sue’s blogs or receive her daily devotions, visit https://suetoyou.com

Blessing of Breathing

I recently discovered a prayer called Blessing of Breathing by Jan Richardson. The selection can be found in her book entitled The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief.

That the first breath will come without fear.

That the second breath will come without pain.

The third breath: that it will come without despair.

And the fourth, without anxiety.

That the fifth breath will come with no bitterness.

That the sixth breath will come for joy.

Breath seven: that it will come for love.

May the eighth breath come for freedom.

And the ninth, for delight.

When the tenth breath comes, may it be for us
to breathe together, and the next, and the next,

until our breathing is as one,
until our breathing is no more.

Amen.