Sunday, November 25, 2007

doctor's orders

Our dear pastor spoke about suffering today. Rather, his sermon was about other things, but the topic of why bad things happen to good people is one brittle layer beneath every conversation around these here parts. We are still reeling from our recent loss of a young man who was brimming with life and promise. Our hearts are jagged and violently bent, like a child's bike run over by a tractor-trailer. In my mind's eye, the dented wheels are still spinning.
What a blessed relief to focus on giving thanks this week. In our human way, we accompanied our gratitude with actions fit for a Broadway opening night production. We roasted turkeys, chopped vegetables, whisked gravy, and soaked pans overnight in soapy water. We lit candles, lingered over dessert, checked the TV channels for holiday specials, and entertained strangers and quirky relatives. The simple and productive acts of doing, coupled with lazy bouts of doing nothing gave us respite; breathing space; an E-Z chair in which to grab a power nap. The story of the first Thanksgiving was a comfort, too. After the Stormy Travels and the Starving Time and the Epidemics, the Pilgrims and the Indians shared their bounty with one another and at their table was peace. This is immensely gratifying and it buys me a portion of sanity. Not to mention an ounce of, "okay, I can do this..."
This morning we worshiped with complete abandon and only a little bit of looking over our shoulders to see if anything else bad was coming our way. And then we sat in the collective warmth of four hundred kindred spirits breathing holy breaths like sheep huddled on the chilly yet sunny side of a precipice and opened our Bibles to Romans 8.
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."(v.18)
and then:
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." (v. 22-23)
As our dear pastor expounded upon these words, an imaginary shaft of light beamed down on us; that kind of sunbeam fraught with a host of suspended dust motes that dip and dive in the air. Their usually invisible specks swirled above our heads in fierce agreement. Yes, we groan. We positively ache, we pine in our earthly suffering. We lean towards heaven with our last crumb of human strength, clutching and gasping and chafing against bad stuff that sticks like burrs. Our feet are mired in the kind of muck that no motherly scour can remove.
And yet we have the first fruits of the Holy Spirit, a down payment of good things to come. Jesus gave it to us, and He is no Indian-giver (apologies to Squanto). The whole chapter of John 14 is my medicine today; a life-giving dram of hope that is good for the rest of the journey.
He tells me this: Take it and be well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This writing touched me as divinely as the strong sermon this morning. What a powerful, powerful God we have. I am thankful for friends like you, who with their writings, touch the heartbeat of my being.

God Bless You!
Nancy C.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Darlene Sinclair said...

It was a wonderful morning of strengthening, knowing that, yes, things here are not perfect, and for Him that is no surprise. Indeed, all of creation is waiting, longing, aching for the unveiling of perfection. No wonder I find that life is not altogether fulfilling; there are merely glimpses and tastes of complete fulfillment. And that is just as it should be.
Thanks for reminding me once again of His promise and life-giving word.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nan --

I, of course, love your writing. But, more than that, I loved your perspective on Sunday's service. I was not able to be apart, but just reading this allowed me a deep breath of understanding and peace. Thanks for writing.


12:26 PM  

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