Mourning in Zion

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I'm sitting at the dining room table at my in-laws waiting for a call from someone to come fix my broken car (a minor issue, really, but one that needs attention). Tricia's parents aren't here: her father is sitting with his elderly mother about an hour up the road and her mother is at dialysis (it's an every-other-day thing while she waits for her fourth kidney). My oldest son is across from me, reading up on college admissions requirements; my youngest is wading into algebra in one of the bedrooms.

Early this morning my father called, waking me up: my grandmother passed away last night. We were supposed to go see her today. I didn't pack for a funeral.

Outside it's raining, sometimes heavy.

I spent many summers with my grandparents as a kid and later as a college student. I even brought my family "home" to live one summer while in my doctoral program. They had a beautiful farm in the Amish country of Pennsylvania, not too far from where I am sitting. Farming it was a real option for me till I was called into ministry. After my grandfather passed, my father and uncle struggled to move my grandmother out of the old house. She came and lived with us in Mississippi for a while and we had a great time together, but it could not last. The farm was sold, the new owner bulldozed all the fences I helped build and some of the quaint places scattered over the hills. Later on the house burned--the oldest part was a log cabin built in the early 1700s, one the first presbyterian missionaries to the area is supposed to be buried in the meadow. Not long after that the barns and other outbuildings were burned or pushed over. Last time I was by the place, nothing was left but field stones, charred timbers, and shattered slate shingles.

What a treasure we have in the gospel. Jesus Christ, the Son who came to save his people from their sins, was anointed with the Spirit to proclaim good news to the poor and bind up the brokenhearted--and he lives on, in risen splendor, comforting those who mourn, giving us garments of praise instead of the ashes of our sin-scorched lives. In his kindness, he fortified me with a great sermon on Isaiah 61 at presbytery this past Tuesday--a passage much on my mind today. He will raise up the ancient ruins and repair the devastations of many generations, and because of this I somehow feel as much like dancing on the ruins of that old farm as I do crying for the loss of my much-beloved and already greatly missed grandma.

I know, there are many moods to mourning and grieving is a process. But our God lives and the comfort of our theology abounds to me in Christ today, in both large and small, obvious and subtle, and familiar and surprising ways. (Why are we ever surprised by God's kindness?)
Posted August 12, 2014 @ 10:16 AM by Bruce Baugus
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