We join the families of those twenty children as we watch their funerals – two yesterday and, probably, more today. Jeremiah wrote a book called Lamentations in the midst of his unspeakable horror. David wrote two-thirds of the Psalms out of his pain. Consider the words of Gerald Sittser. May they serve you as they have served me. In A Grace Disguised, after the horrific loss of his daughter, wife, and mother in a car accident, he wrote: “Catastrophic loss by definition precludes recovery. It will transform us or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same. There is no going back to the past…It is not therefore true that we become less through loss – unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left…Loss can also make us more. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I. Read more.
The painful images of the funerals of the children from Sandy Hook elementary school is an invitation from God for us to learn to lament. David not only sang this lamentation; he ordered the people to learn it, memorize it and inhabit it as their experience. After the terrible, tragic deaths of Saul and Jonathan, we read: David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow: “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!…Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon….O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul …How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. 2 Samuel 1:17-20; 24-25 Eugene Peterson says it well: “Pain isn’t the worst thing… Death isn’t the worst thing. The worst thing is failing to deal with. Read more.
Each day brings new stories and images of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. An old friend had his house completely washed away in the storm. He had built it himself. The following is from his e-mail to me two days ago: “I’m having trouble accepting this all as the will of God…The realization that everything a man has worked for in his whole life has been washed away in just one 2-3 hour period. I don’t know, but I wish I did.” Sandy is an invitation to pause and ponder. The following are a few thoughts out of my journal from this past week: 1. God is Greater and More Powerful than I Realize. He remains “seated on his throne, high and exalted” (Isaiah 6:1). The force and size of a hurricane is humbling. 2. You and I Are Not in Control of Our Lives or Destiny. Take another long look at the roller coaster. Read more.
Over time I have become more convinced, not less, of the application of the radical simplicity of the Desert Fathers of the 3rd t0 5th centuries. They fled to the desert in order to seek God and eventually serve as a life raft for a church that had become almost indistingishable from the world. The church in the West is in a very similar state. The answer begins with us as pastors and leaders of God’s flock, I believe. As Tolstoy once said, “Everybody wants to change the world, but noone thinks of changing himself.” I think he was right. There is only one pathway – the pathway of Jesus. Ronald Rolheiser in The Holy Longing outlines this as the only way to profound transformation. We repeat it over and over again in our walks with Christ. 1. Name your deaths (Good Friday) 2. Claim your births (Easter) 3. Grieve for what you have lost and adjust to the. Read more.