Thursday, August 31, 2006

About Dusso

There is a scene near the beginning of the movie "About Schmidt" in which 66 year old Warren Schmidt sits at work in his empty office, staring at the clock, alone, waiting for his last day of a lifelong career to come to an end. Well, here I am in my empty office, and I feel a whole lot like Mr. Schmidt.

It's a goofy feeling to be saying goodbye to a life, a space and a community that has been so important in your life. In the empty office or empty house all you can think of is the people that have walked through and events that have occurred in this vacant space. The feeling is melancholy and a bit sad. It's no wonder Mr. Schmidt had a breakdown.

But as I sit in my empty office alone, I quickly am reminded that actualy I am never alone. The Word of God comforts me in Psalm 121 when it says "The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore." (Ps 121:8) Regardless if the transition is the end of a 45-year career or a 3-year job, Jesus transforms the melancholy of leaving into the comfort and hope that comes through his gospel. In Christ there is more life to live, more spaces to occupy, and more people to love. August 31 is an end for me, and my office is empty, but September 1 will be a new beginning and my new space will be crammed with the chaos of boxes, clutter and kind, friendly, new people asking to help.

God's grace promises that even when we face our final day on earth, the day of our death, we will not be alone. The hospital room or hospice room might be bare and white and cold, but the warmth of the Lord will also be present. And after we die, we will still live with the promise of a tomorrow: a new life, new space, and new people to meet at the great feast to come. Thank you Lord for taking away our melancholy on the cross and bringing us hope and joy, even as we sit in an empty room.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hot or Cold?

It's summer, so of course it's hot. But it just seems like its been a little too hot for a little too long. Unfortunately, I need to mow my lawn, and a break in this heat doesn't seen to be coming.

Last night on TV a local news report showed clips from a snow storm that hit this area back in January. They then posed this question: "Which would you prefer, this summer's heat or the cold and snow of the winter?" I had to think about that one for a while. Certainly in January I was itching for some really hot days and of course now a good blizzard sounds wonderful. But I think my faith led me to come up with an completely different answer.

Life, like weather temperatures, has many ups and downs. During those times of stress and difficulty we like to complain and wish for something better. Psalms of lament give us permission to lift our complaints to God. But what I learn from those laments is that ultimately we only find relief when we realize and affirm the fact that God is in control. When we begin lamenting in Psalm 22 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (v.1)" we finish by affirming that hope comes from only from the Lord: "But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me (v. 19)."

A blizzard or heat wave is not the answer. God is our answer. With a faithful heart I look at the blessings of today, try to stay positive, and give thanks to the Lord my God. "They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! (Ps 22:31)"