DayBreaks for 9/27/18 – Doorways Cut in Sod

Image result for empty gravesite

DayBreaks for 9/27/18Doorways Cut in Sod            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

The day after I write this, I will be conducting a funeral service for a woman I never met.  By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and she achieved a great deal in her life.  All that I’ve spoken to about her tell me how wonderful she was.  But there is a question that haunts me: I do not know if she was a believer.  I have some reason to think she was, and some to think she wasn’t.  I just don’t know.  I never had the chance to talk with her.  And so, as I stand before the congregants at her memorial service tomorrow, I will face the great dilemma that Christian pastors face at such times: what can be said about such a life?

Another DayBreaks reader recently sent me an email requesting prayer and some guidance as someone in their family had just ended his life after being married only 5-1/2 weeks.  Grief is a heavy chain at such times and it must be worn and cannot be easily discarded.  “Lord, into Your hands, we commit his spirit.”

Death is the great leveler.  Young and old, weak and strong, lowly and mighty – all will dine at the Reaper’s table.  For some, the Reaper is aptly named “the Grim Reaper,”, but to others, there’s nothing grim about him.

I am so relieved when I learn that someone is a Christian and that they’ve gone home.  Consider these words from the pen of Calvin Miller:

“I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,

When it was but the end of pulse and breath,

But now my eyes have seen that past the pain

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,

For living’s such a temporary art.

And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Ps. 116:15

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that our days need not be lived in fear of death and dying, and that for Your children there is no grim reaper, but a Father’s arms that await us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/10/17: A Fresh Grave, A Fresh Garden

DayBreaks for 2/20/17: A Fresh Grave, A Fresh Garden

From the blog of Doug Dalrymple, 2/07/07:

Why should you be surprised that the human race’s wickedness can hinder the fertility of the earth? For our sake the earth was subject to corruption, and for our sake it will be free of it. It exists solely for us, to serve us. Its being like this or like that has its root in this destiny… What happens to the world happens to it for the sake of the dignity of the human race. – John Chrysostom

If the current occupant of the throne in the Phanar has earned for himself the title of “Green Patriarch,” perhaps he’s simply following in the steps of his sainted predecessor. Perhaps. But Chrysostom’s is a different sort of environmentalism, isn’t it?
God is the true life of man. St John suggests that man is, in turn, the life of the created order. It depends upon us. It follows us into exile like a devoted slave, rejoicing in our honor, glorying in our beauty, weeping in our sorrow, dying in our death.
The created order is a mirror of man. Eden has fallen because Adam has fallen. When we look upon the world we behold our own conflicted reflection: an image of God, full of dignity and glory, obscured through sin, fallen into decay and dissolution, a field of conflict, a fresh grave, but sprouting with flowers.
“What happens to the world happens to it for the sake of the dignity of the human race.” This sounds absurd to us. But I wonder: if Adam wept when he left the Garden, perhaps his tears were due in part to a transformation -difficult for us to conceive but utterly apparent to him- which he had wrought upon creation through his disobedience, the abdication of his calling to “tend and keep.”
“…[F]or our sake it will be free…” Scripture teaches us that all things in heaven and on earth will be brought together and transformed in the God-Man, Jesus Christ. The whole creation, we read, groans under the burden of our fallenness, in anticipation of the revelation of the Sons of God, which is mankind resurrected, made fully alive, a royal priesthood, a new creation in Christ.
Eden was a seed entrusted to a child; heaven is the full-grown garden promised to the man.

PRAYER: Lord, in our fall we have marred your world, and mar it still.  Forgive us.  We long for the full-grown garden.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/27/15 – What Troubles God

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DayBreaks for 3/27/15: What Troubles God

My favorite Bible story growing up would change from time to time.  Daniel in the lion’s den, the story of Joseph, even Job and his troubles were from time to time my favorite story.  But for a long, long time now, it is the story of the raising of Lazarus that has held my heart enthralled and my mind intrigued.  I recently received a reflection on that story and I believe it is worth sharing.  This is from Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflections this year:

“The story of Lazarus is rich in meaning for us, especially during Lent. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus “groaned in spirit.” Jesus’ trouble here is the result of his identification with sinful humanity. He goes all the way to the bottom of it, letting its truth affect him. Jesus does not just love us abstractly or from a distance. He comes close to us.

“More to the point, this groaning of Jesus signals the pain that God feels at our imprisonment. If his glory is our being fully alive, then his agony is tied to our sin. How salvific it can be to listen to this groaning of the Lord at our own lack of life.

“In the same vein, Jesus weeps for his friend. There is something heartbreaking about this for it is the only time in the Scripture that Jesus is described as weeping. Whatever form death takes within us – physical, psychological, spiritual – it is something deeply troubling to God.

“One detail is particularly moving: Jesus asks, “Where have you laid him?” Sin alienates us from our God, making us strangers to him. Just as in the book of Genesis, God looked for Adam and Eve, who were hiding from him, so here God incarnate doesn’t know where his friend Lazarus is.

“Then the Lord comes to the tomb. We hear that it was a cave with a stone laid across it. When things are dead, we bury them away, we hide them. When we feel spiritually dead, we lock ourselves up in the darkness of our own anxiety and egotism and fear. But there is a power, a divine power, sent into this world whose very purpose is to break through all such stones. “Lazarus, come out!” Are there any words more beautiful and stirring in the whole New Testament? From whatever grave we are lying in, Jesus calls us out.

“And the dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.” Lazarus comes out with all of the signs of death still clinging to him. So Jesus says “Untie him and let him go.” Here we see it: Whatever limits, binds, controls, orders, dominates us – these are the enemies of God.”

PRAYER: Father, it is good to know that what troubles us causes You distress, too, and that You call us out of the graves in which we lay!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/02/14 – Love and Death

DayBreaks for 12/02/14 – Love and Death

Over the weekend I had the honor and privilege to officiate at a wedding.  It wasn’t just any wedding, though, it was the wedding of one of my cousins.  We have been very good friends from the time we were little boys – playing together at family get-togethers back in Iowa.  One summer, the summer of ’66, I spent the entire summer on their farm (we’d moved to California by then) helping with the “farm work”.  We did work hard: taking care of the livestock, baling hay, walking beans, cultivating the corn and lots of other things, too, but most of all, we just had a whale of a lot of fun!  I was just entering my freshman year in high school and he was old enough that he had his driver’s license, so in the night times when the work was done, we were almost always gone somewhere goofing off.  We paid for it the next morning when his dad would holler up the stairs at 5 a.m.: “Time to get up, boys!”

This is not the first wedding for my cousin.  He was made a widower a few years ago when his first wife died of cancer.  It was heartbreaking and he loved her dearly.  But life often deals us hands we’d rather not play and he was forced to play the widower card.

As I stood there before him and his new bride, reminding them that their vows are “until death do you part”, I was overwhelmed with the strength of love.  My cousin, as I mentioned, is older than I.  We are both possessed of “tickers” that have had some major plumbing redone by a heart surgeon in order to keep us alive to this point.  While we both are doing well (as far as we know), we are getting of the age that no one knows how long we will live.  Yet, his lovely new bride was willing to stand before him, and he before her, and promise to love each other until death comes knocking on the door.

But I don’t want this to be maudlin, for my thoughts were about triumphant love and not death.  When two older people marry, they know that they won’t have the golden anniversary together.  Chances are good that they won’t have a silver anniversary.  But they are still willing to make those promises and readily accept the risk of going through the death of another spouse rather than remain alone.

Why?  I suspect Solomon answered it when he wrote: Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.  – Song of Solomon 8:6  I think, perhaps, Solomon understated it a bit: I think love is stronger than death and we are so jealous of love that we are willing to risk losing one to death in order to know love in all its wonder and majesty – however fleetingly.  That’s why people who are 70, 80 or older, still say “I do!” to one another: because knowing love, for even a few delirious weeks, is stronger than the grave.

Christ was willing to take on the grave because of His love for us.  We are willing to take on the pain of losing a loved one to death after just a short time because love is so amazing.  And why shouldn’t it be?  GOD is love.  It is His nature, who He is, and He has chosen to share it with us.

PRAYER: God, thank You for the wonder of human love – as faultering and flawed as it is, for it gives us a glimpse of You and what we truly long for! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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