We lost another one today. M passed away quietly this afternoon while her fiancé held her hand and wailed with grief.
But here’s the kicker: she wasn’t supposed to die. She had gone in for an operation because she couldn’t move her leg like she used to. She liked to dance. She wanted to dance at her wedding. This was no big deal. A quick operation and she’d be back doing the Macarena in a week.
But, instead, she died.
For M and W, this was a new beginning for them both. They each went through terrible divorces and resigned themselves to living their lives alone.
Then they found each other.
He: A sad, deeply feeling man who needed breathing space, a refuge from life’s pain, a sanctuary. She was all that for him. And much, much more.
She: had given up on men. Men were controlling, abusive, couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. They were to be avoided at any or all costs. Her ex-husband almost destroyed any joy she harboured. Then he came along. A perfect gentleman. He showed her that men could be kind, tender. Loving.
They moved in together and started building a life. They did everything together. They wore matching outfits (yes, they were THAT couple. Annoying. But cute). She said he gave her a renewed faith and in men and life. He said she made him a better man.
They heard me preach at a wedding they attended and decided that, when they got married, they wanted me to be the preacher.
After Sunday worship, they would practice walking down the aisle together. They were SO looking forward to the wedding. It absolutely breaks your heart.
So instead, I’m doing a funeral. The family is beside themselves. The fiancé is shell-shocked. The son can barely speak. The daughter - a strong, proud woman - struggles to keep from losing control.
(Job [to God]: You. Have. Wronged. Me.)
(God: Yes. I have.)
Now I have to preach at the funeral. Can I find some good news to comfort this family? This is where the rubber of life hits the road of our faith. What does that look like? Can I do this with integrity?
Maybe, my job is to do no more than announce that Jesus is alive. That’s what this whole Christian thing is about, isn’t it? Maybe, first, I have to announce it to myself.
Today, I need that announcement, because I can’t preach what I don’t receive myself. That’s the conundrum of the preacher.
So, here it is:
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call;
Lift your voice, it's the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion's hill salvation comes (Robin Mark Days of Elijah)
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.