Monday, July 30, 2018


Part of psalm 137 (NIV verse 4) explains how I feel today.
          "How can we sing the songs of the Lord while 
in a foreign land?"

Yesterday in church (Episcopal), it was announced that a long-time parishioner had yet another recurrence of his cancer. This time, things look particularly grim and survival not expected. A collective gasp of sadness and worry emanated from our group.   Myself included.

But then in my mind I countered this sadness with  Jesus' own words:
 . . .  "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." 
(NIV Lk 23:43).

 It's not just a coincidence that Jesus was telling this to someone described as a "thief;" one of two thieves ("takers") suffering crucifixion agony alongside Jesus ("a giver.") One had no dying repentance. The other, this so-called "Good Thief" was repentant, asking Jesus to remember Him when He entered His kingdom.

The good thief was no saint, yet he was told by Jesus as directly as possible, that he WOULD be with Him in Paradise right away-- and as a matter of fact, how about "today?" Not after lengthy groveling before a decree is handed down. No begging. No, none of that. "Today."

The Nicene Creed has been around since the 4th century. So the concept of life everlasting with a resurrected body in glory is not some johnny-come-lately idea. In my church we profess the Creed every Sunday without fail. So why do I feel so lousy today? 

I feel, again, like "odd man out" because I never heard anything to counter the negativity associated with this beloved parishioner's imminent death. It was as if we were non-Christians sitting there. My attempts later on to talk of our mutual (is it mutual??) belief that this decorated WWII hero, a pillar of our small church community, will be after death, merely sliding right over to a place of light, joy ("I think it's almost like a party going on up there!") and with Jesus, met with silence. And counters. And frankly, I expect more from my long-time Christian friends. Am I the only one out there that feels almost  a tad of excitement for the desperately ill and suffering ones, soon to transition and be with Jesus in Paradise?

I know, I know,  there's a period (usually quite lengthy ie. particularly with child bereavement) of intense sadness, loss and near-despair. Losing two children and my college sweetheart in an instant taught me that pretty well. But . . . there's a yin to the yang of horrific loss--it's called remembering and believing Luke 23:43 (that verse above) and what the Nicene Creed says about the resurrection of the body and "life" of the world to come.

    (I like the Catholic wording of the last line of the Nicene Creed better: "And I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.") (Italics mine).

The Nicene Creed (
   We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made man.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
   He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Peace be with you!



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