For you, my faithful readers/gluttons for punishment, I simply wish to let you know that my new blog site is officially up and running here: https://boat14wv.wordpress.com/ I will try to get a new email subscription option for those who wish to continue to follow there. Also, all the content from boat14nc has been imported to that site, but I will let this site stand for a season before taking it down. The new site is something I’m still tweaking, so things might change here and there as I have time to edit the site.
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In the providence of God, I have moved pastoral callings from where I served in NC for the last eight years to Pilgrim Presbyterian Church in Martinsburg, WV. Many things are in flux right now, including this blog. I will hopefully begin transitioning all the content over to a new blog site that will look suspiciously like the current one. So, all you faithful readers, keep your eyes peeled for the up-and-coming “boat14wv”.
At the end of Tolkien’s Return of the King, Frodo is plagued by recurring fits of pain due to a wound he received from a Morgul blade back at the beginning of his quest to destroy the One Ring. The pain is like an evil visitor, one which Frodo can conceal well from everyone, with the exception of his dear friend and servant Samwise.
I have come to know that anniversaries of the death of loved ones are like that. That old wound is an evil visitor that assaults us sometimes unawares. Sometimes on schedule. Sometimes with a renewed vigor that undoes us. And many times this evil visitor is only noticed by the Samwises in our lives.
So today, on the 10th anniversary of our son Noah’s stillbirth, I feel the wretched pinch of that Morgul blade and remember my fellow grievers. As a friend, pastor, and fellow griever once told me, “We (who have lost a loved one) are members all of a fraternity we would never have wished access to but now have access to the hearts of those who suffer like we do.”
So today, no ordinary day, I reach out to those who have been blindsided by grief, whether fresh or well-weathered, and wish that your Samwise might be close at hand. Most importantly, you also must remember that there is One from whom you can’t go where He can’t follow. For if Christ took our nature into the grave only to rise again in resurrection glory, then he is the head of our fraternity of sufferers. For no one else is firstborn from the dead. The sting and shadow of death still clings to everything and everyone but Him. So my dear fellow sufferers, in the midst of your pain, cling to Him. And if you have no strength to cling to Him, ask Him to cling to you. That’s ok. That’s enough.
Tonight, I began reading Rosaria Butterfield’s new book on hospitality, “The Gospel Comes with a House Key”,
and I couldn’t get past the first chapter. But that’s just what her writing does.
It’s like the old story of the person driving through a thick fog, and as they approach a bridge over a steep-banked river someone steps out of the fog and fires a flare gun right at them. Furious, they get out of their vehicle and begin to confront the audacious guy with the flare gun only to find out that the bridge was out ahead. The flare gun guy was trying to stop their car and save them from plunging to a cold, watery demise.
So I get to these lines and it’s like Rosaria just ricocheted a flare off the roof of my car.
Who else knows that the sin that will undo me is my own, not my neighbor’s, no matter how big my neighbor’s sin may appear?… Here’s the thing about soothing yourself with self-delusion: no one buys it but you. (p. 19)
I stop, put my head on the steering wheel, and have to catch my breath. And while I’m catching my breath and working up the courage to go on to chapter 2, I am going to stop and thank my Heavenly Father for friends like Rosaria. A good friend always has their flare gun ready.
Here’s the next installment of this series over at the church’s website.
Where else can one find the perfect harmony of St. Patrick’s day, obscure theological heresies, and a gratifying reference to Voltron?
This is a good passage to remind us of God’s upside-down kingdom on this day when the President who is inaugurated has an “…obsession with outward appearance, sexiness, superficiality, wealth, [and] his own status and accomplishments.” Our newly minted President, by virtue of his office, will deserve our prayers, our obedience as far as conscience and God’s Word will allow, but not our imitation.
“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 10
Kyrie, eleison. Lord, have mercy.