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Sunday grace

Precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints.
— Psalm 116: 15

I awaken to the thought, another sweet friend left this earth and made her way to the eternal home, the place Jesus promised He was preparing for us.

We make many acquaintances during a lifetime. Some deepen into friendships, kindred spirits and companions. There is the rare blessing when friends become family.

We met at church, our children small, and the relationship developed over years of gathering in the house of the Lord. Bonds of love grew as we united in worship, in learning the Bible together, and in experiencing the Holy Spirit in all His mystery. We played music together for hours upon end. No wonder Scripture admonishes us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Friendship blossomed.

Many years ago, I worked with a group of teens, and my friend’s youngest was part of the group. He was a character, funny, unpredictable, a challenge to the structure I was trying to provide. It was like herding cats, and I loved him. He became more than his teachers expected. We wrote letters while he was in the military. He is a strong and capable man today, and I’m proud to know him. He was my friend’s baby boy.

She and I talked about our children, our grandchildren, music lessons, weight watchers, and anything else that came to our minds. She was quiet and reserved in a group, but she laughed easily and opened up with a few close friends. This morning I remember her laughter and the happy expression on her face.

Friends who become family, these are the ones who come for the celebrations, pitch in when there is work to be done and stay until it’s finished. Friends who are family show up when tragedy strikes – the sudden hospitalization and unexpected diagnosis, the house fire that devastates, the illness that lingers long, and the news from across the world of a young life suddenly snuffed out. They come when only silent prayers are prayed, and they remain, their presence a comfort that needs no words.

My heart hurts this morning for the sister/friend missing from my life, for the richness of her loyalty, for the love she showed me. I grieve for her husband who faithfully walked with her and sat beside her bed until the final breath. I ache for her three strong sons, for their wives and for the grandchildren she dearly loved and delighted to talk about.

I read this commentary on Psalm 116:15: “ . . . the death of saints is an object of value; that God regards it as of importance; that it is connected with his great plans, and that there are great purposes to be accomplished by it. . . the death of a good man [or woman] is in itself of so much importance, and so connected with the glory of God and the accomplishment of his purposes, that he will not cause it to take place except in circumstances, at times, and in a manner, which will best secure those ends.”

God’s ways are not my ways. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. I struggle to understand what He does. I cannot fathom the greatness of His plan that encompasses the whole of creation, of which I am a small part. I experience the goodness of His grace as well as the pain and suffering of a world marred and broken by sin.

I feel the loss this morning, the long days ahead of missing one so dear, the empty place she leaves in the hearts and lives of those she loved and who loved her.

Today we weep. Our Father knows our aching hearts. He sees the tears and does not disregard them. He offers Himself as Comforter. One day He will wipe away tears. Until then, He promises a hope, a future, a Home with Him that will outshine the stars. We wait for it.

Home. That’s where my friend is today. She will be waiting for us.


Kindness

Kindness.  It’s a fruit of the Spirit.  It grows from being connected to the heart of Jesus when He is Lord of your life.

It came to our house today dressed like a guy with a snow plow.  I was wrestling my shovel, dressed like a bear in hibernation.  Sweet William was standing inside the garage because he cannot risk a slip or a slide on his fragile knees.  And I begged him not to.  He did not like standing there watching me with a shovel.  But what are we to do?

Then this kind person arrived, his truck hauling the snow plow behind it.

I remembered him from last year when we had the record breaking snowfall of February 2015.  I was stuck in my house with little dog, while Sweet William rested safely in rehab after yet another surgery on his knee.

My good Samaritan was a sight for sore eyes that day last year.  He made quick work of our driveway, and I was able to pull the little black Honda out of the garage for the first time in a week.

And here he was again.  Relief flooded me.  My back was aching from the work I’d already done.  We rejoiced in the kindness of someone we hardly see in our large church, except at a distance.

We offered to pay him.  He said no.  We offered to pray for him.  He said yes.  So there in our cleared drive, we joined our hands as members of Christ’s family and offered thanks for one so kind and asked God’s blessing on him and those he loves.

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.  It comes from God and shines brightest through His children.100_2761

 

Sabbath serving

Today the church left the building and went out to serve.

Little Flock, where Sweet William and I go each week to worship and to learn, went  into the community, putting hands and feet to what we preach and teach.  And what we preach and teach is Jesus.

Jesus called us to love like He did.  We, His followers, are to do more than just gather weekly at a building.  In fact, the church is not the facility where we meet, not the brick and mortar.  The church is the people.

Today, we acted like the church and participated in Operation Inasmuch.

Teams went to build a deck, to clean up homes and schools grounds.  Others prepared treats for our civil servants and bus drivers. Children wrote thank you notes and big people filled back packs with school supplies.  So many people were doing the work of Jesus, not just talking about it.

If we are to live like Jesus, then let us do what Jesus did, love like Jesus loved, help the hurting, visit the lonely, encourage the downcast.  Let us move from the pews to the neighborhoods.

Let the church be the church.

Sunday grace, friends.

operation inasmuch

#LFInAsMuch

Going back

I’ve been doing a lot of going back and forth lately.  Back to the church of my youth.   Back to the place of so many memories.  Back to the songs I know so well.

Dixie Valley

The church were I grew up is having its 75th anniversary this weekend.  As part of the music planned for the weekend celebration, I’ve been traveling there for choir practices.  Dixie Valley Church of God is where I went from being a child to an adult, where I met and courted Sweet William, where we married and where we served when our one and only son was born.

I played the organ.  Sweet William played the guitar.  We were charter members of the Dixie Valley Youth Choir in its prime.  They were good days.

Former members of the church and choir are coming from near and far away to practice and participate in the weekend services.  We are singing a lot of old songs, the toe-tapping hand-clapping gospel songs.  Sometimes they raise the rafters.

What started as a youth choir in the 1970s is now a group of multi-generational people.  Those of us in the original youth choir have aged.  There are balding and grey heads among us.  We’ve born children and are enjoying grandchildren.  Some have parted with spouses by death or divorce.  We’ve had our share of happiness but we’ve also swam in deep waters and rivers of difficulty.  More importantly we have experienced the grace of God through the years and we know, yes, we know without a doubt that our God is real.

The church of my youth has changed in so many ways.  Pastors have come and gone.  A host of members have left us by way of the grave.  This weekend we will remember and be thankful for our experiences together.

And at the end of the day, one thing will remain.  When it is all said and done, God is still faithful and His church is triumphant.

May we always remember.

The body

Day 39 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Plan on attending Easter services at your church. Invite someone to attend with you.

Dear Friends,

It’s Good Friday, and we have come to the end of our 40-day journey to Passover and Resurrection weekend.  Robin Howe and I wish we could express how we have enjoyed your traveling with us.  Your comments have encouraged us along the way, knowing that we have been focusing on Jesus as we walked together.  It is with much joy and some sorrow that this particular journey ends.

We have reached our destination, the days marked to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Today’s challenge is to make plans to attend services at your church this weekend and to invite someone to come with you.  So may I just give a plug for the church?

I think “church” has gotten some bad press over the years, the centuries.  Sometimes we expect everyone in the church house to be perfect saints.  People remark about the hypocrites in the church.  When a minister or a high official in the church “falls from grace” or is caught in some public sin, suddenly we are down on anyone and anything church related.

No doubt the “church” has done some pretty bad things in the name of Christ.  She has failed to fulfill her calling which is to love one another.

But the church is not a building or an institution or an enterprise.  It’s a body, a body of Christ-believers who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God.  The members of the body are not perfect or completely holy.  On the contrary, they are quite imperfect.  However, they are forgiven and they know how and why.  And that makes all the difference.

It is still the body fitly joined together to accomplish the purpose of telling God’s story, of revealing His love letter to people who have not yet understood. The personalities are different.  The gifts and talents are varied.  They are young and old and teenagers and children.  They are sometimes radical and sometimes conservative.  They have grey hair and streaked blond hair and even stand-up-straight-in-the-air hair.  They carry King James Version Bibles and New American Standards and The Message and The Living Translation.  They come from the east end wealthy and the down and out streets of the poor.  They come in all colors.

They have one bond in common.  They are brothers and sisters in Christ, are blood bought, and are striving to follow Jesus more and more each day with all of the heart, mind, soul, and strength.

The Bible says the world will know we are Christians by our love.  Yes, love will identify us.  It should identify us.  Not the way we dress or wear our hair, not the denomination on our membership card.  Not how large a Bible we carry or whether we are reading it from an app on our smart phone.

But we should be identified by our attitudes, our work ethic, our willingness to lend a hand, our ability to look past the flaws in others, our quickness to forgive, our love for every human being whether saint or sinner, our openness and giving spirit, and our passion to tell the world that Jesus is the answer to all of life’s problems and situations.

This would be the church in all her glory and perfection.  This would be Christ’s body moving and working in unity and love.

No, the church is not perfect yet.  But she is the best plan God had for spreading His good news.

Let us be the church and be about our Father’s business.

church people

We have completed our 40-day journey.  Come visit us at PeggyWright.wordpress.com and IGetUpTooEarly.blogspot.com.  We would love to see you again soon.

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download