Steve and Sandra Parker – Their daughter Suzanne lost her child, Noah to still birth.
Herndon and Kim Jeffreys – Daughter Noie had surgery on her hand yesterday.
Roanoke District – Mission Sunday in the midst of threats of snow.
All of our churches and people who must travel and work in the midst of the storm.
All of our pastors who may be in the midst of pastoral leadership changes.
Friday, I witnessed two funerals. The first was a celebration of a life well lived. He was the patriarch of a large and faithful family. The service was full of stories about his many faceted lives as musician, postman, restaurant owner, father, grandfather and even a few stories of playing the slots in Vegas. He was described as a troubadour who told stories and in those stories we felt the presence of God. We leaned and appreciated the life of someone who loved God and his family. It was a time for grieving but also a time for celebration.
The second funeral was for a baby who died 2 weeks before delivery. This was a graveside service for a life that was never lived. The grandfather, Steve Parker who is a pastor on our district stood before all of us and described the hopes and plans of each member of the family: A niece who wanted to babysit; a brother, who wanted a baby brother; an aunt who wanted a child to love but not be responsible for; his own dreams of going fishing with all of his grandchildren in tow. This was a funeral that was never supposed to happen and he honestly and poignantly described his family as broken hearted.
As he described his emotions, Steve also shared his faith. How God had surrounded him and his family with signs of love in the midst of their grief. Steve reminded us all how the church was present for him when he needed it. In the midst of his broken heart, Steve and his family found God offering comfort and strength. In the end, Steve found a way to give thanks to God even in the midst of his pain.
I saw God in at work this day in a way we often take for granted. God through the churches we serve brings healing comfort in so many ways. God is there in our worship, in our many acts of kindness and in our prayers.
It is interesting how the devotions I read often match up with what is happening in my daily life. This morning I read a prayer written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from “Devotions for Lent” reflections from the Bible by Mosaic.
I cannot do this alone.
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray.
And to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart but with you there is help;
I am restless but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before others.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
n  Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I can picture Bonhoeffer lingering in his prayer over these sentences…
I cannot do this alone…
In me there is darkness but with you there is light…
I am lonely but you do not leave me…
I am feeble in heart but with you there is help…
I am restless but with you there is peace…
In me there is bitterness but with you there is patience…
I do not understand your ways but you know the way for me…
And finally the faith Dietrich possesses is illustrated in the words: “Lord, whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.”
In the same Lenten devotional, I ran across this paragraph. “Sixteen hundred years ago, John Cassian published an account of his conversations with monks living in a desert. One older monk , Isaac, shared this prayer from Psalm 70 with John on his visit. Even today many Christians around the globe begin times of prayer with this verse. It serves as a clarion call to lean on God in the midst of our independent culture.”
“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” – Psalm 121:1-2
My prayer today is that you feel the power of God as you look up to the mountains. May you know that your help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
May you know that the worship you attend and the prayers you pray matter. God is at work within and around you.