Sermon, Last Sunday of Lent

IMG_1081Today’s sermon preached at St. A’s, the raising of Lazarus and Grandpa Chuck’s death.

Sermon Audio

It is because of my grandfather’s death that I stand before you this morning.

During a particularly difficult moment in my ministry, my grandpa Chuck, after whom Charles is named, fell ill and breathed his last. We were living in South Carolina at the time, far from snowy Minnesota, but I still visited him a few times in his last weeks and was even there to give him last rites the day he died.

Back home, I was struggling with my call, feeling stonewalled at every turn, denied at every door, frustrated with pouring so much effort into what seemed like a bottomless chasm. It was more than exhaustion, or a period of thankless plowing through; I was suffocating, like a flame submitted to a snuffer, gasping for enough air to keep breathing. In some ways my depression felt very much like death. Continue reading

(another) quotation of the day, with comment: Emily Dickinson

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 One who wrote unflinchingly of death, Ms. Dickinson’s poem (below) has been bouncing around in my head and heart this week.  I don’t know that I quite agree with her that we shall not use our love again until eternity, but I know the busyness of funeral-planning that often overtakes one (or an entire family), and the urge to vacuum up broken bits of heart.

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth –
The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –

I hope we do use that love again; even the same love I had and have for Grandpa used for his children, grandchildren, and hoped-for great-grandchildren.  I think that’s a piece of resurrection in the midst of death.  Hope in the middle of darkness.