Being Kind? Remembering.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 30, 2014

God I fail you, but i need your comfort

Being Kind? Remembering.

In the aftermath of a memorial service today, I have two vivid memories that come to me. First, one of the hymns. Second, the remembrances and tributes to the person who has died.

The hymn “Morning Has Broken” has always been one of my favorite hymns. Except—I have always sung it in the context of a Sunday morning worship service, and usually as a gathering hymn. This was a bit different. We sang it today as an opening hymn, it’s true. But the opening hymn of a memorial service. The words touched me in a new way today. Especially poignant to me, in light of the memorial aspect of the service, were the words of the third verse:

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning.
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation, Praise ev’ry morning,
God’s recreation Of the new day!

I thought of the new day of those now standing in the presence of God. The new surroundings, the new . . . everything. How comforting and encouraging these words can sound, especially to loved ones who have so recently lost someone to a devastating illness.

Now, second. The remembrances and tributes. The person remembered today was truly special. Everything everyone said at the service was intensely meaningful and heartfelt. I was so moved, I couldn’t help but tear up at times. Even though some of these memories were humorous and lighthearted, too! But, the humor was tinged by bittersweet. This dear person will be sincerely missed.

Memorial services are just that—places to gather together, to remember together, and to mourn together. And like today, places to laugh together, and to cry together. God, be with all those who mourn today. Not only this dear person we had the service for today, but for all those who have been lost, who died, and who were killed in recent times. Comfort those who mourn. Help them reframe their understanding and encourage each other in these sad times.

We can truly thank God that God is with us, every step of the way. Even when we can’t find a way ahead, even when the way is dark or stormy or uncertain. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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Serving, Rejoicing, Moving Boxes!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter - happy Easter and eggs

Serving, Rejoicing, Moving Boxes!

He is risen! He is risen, indeed! That is the traditional call and response for this Easter morning. At church today, we lifted voices in praise to God. We sang hymns, prayed prayers, and listened to my co-pastor deliver a fine Easter message. Of course, we rejoiced in the victory of Easter. We praised God for the conquering of sin and death, and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. I played the piano as well as leading worship. I played some wonderful hymns and songs for this very special time of the year.

After the morning worship service, many people met in the fellowship hall, and I visited various relatives and visitors to the church this Easter morning. And we did, indeed, have some visitors. Praise God!

Such a beautiful day, too. After such a long, drawn-out winter, I sincerely thanked God for the wonderful weather and the warm temperatures (at last!).

And then—and then, I went home. I came home to an apartment still topsy-turvy from the moving of things for the carpet guys. Don’t get me wrong—I never, ever would say that I regret it! No, certainly not. However, putting back everything that was packed away is a daunting task. And, a task that I am taking some pains to accomplish with a great amount of care. After all, we are going to have to live with (most of) the choices and the places where I put things.

I moved two larger boxes last night, and three more today, this afternoon. The stacks of boxes in the basement are becoming smaller, indeed. Not quite to the halfway point yet, but almost there.

God, I get it. I may be slow on the uptake sometimes, but I get it—finally. This whole process of moving boxes, repacking books on shelves, deciding (once again!) which books to keep, which ones to cull, and which books go where—this process is an object lesson from You. Lord Jesus, You want me to learn something from this whole thing. Yeah, I recognize the grin on Your face by now.

I will enumerate the lessons I am learning. First, anything worth doing is worth doing well. And thoroughly. Second, anything I do is not to be done in a slap-dash manner. In other words, I need to pay attention to arranging this apartment and these books, and to do it in a methodical manner. (Which is similar to the first point, but has enough differences that I gave it a separate heading.) And third, deciding which books to get rid of? Ooo, this is a huge learning point for me. I need to be careful to willingly give up books we’ve outgrown or have no more use for. But at the same time, I am urged not to get rid of things willy-nilly. And, I suspect God wants me to look at other things/attitudes/habits in my life, too. I feel the urge to cull here, too!

Now, if I can just get my brain to process and come to terms with these facts . . . and these books. <grin> Seriously, happy Easter to one and all!

@chaplaineliza

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Of Piano Playing and Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, January 5, 2014

piano lady

Of Piano Playing and Being Kind

I received a call last night. A pianist was unable to show up for two worship services this morning. I was asked whether I would be able to substitute at the last minute. Of course! I said. I’ve been at both of these retirement homes in Chicago a number of times, just not under these last-minute-circumstances.

Sometimes I preach and lead worship, more recently I’ve also played the piano, and a few times I’ve played both roles. So when I walked into the chapel at the first home, I knew all of the dear seniors present. I spoke to a few on my way to the piano. Because of snow and ice on the roads (as well as on my car), I came just two or three minutes before the service was to start. I played through two hymns as a prelude. After the service, I played a number of hymns as a postlude. Familiar hymns. Since I’ve been preaching, leading worship and playing for services at retirement homes over the past number of years, I know which hymns are more likely to elicit sighs and nods of recognition, and even seniors singing the words along with my playing. Thus it was with my postlude. One dear senior (mid-eighties? late eighties?) still has a very nice-sounding voice, and a marvelous memory for the words of many, many hymns.  As I played, I smiled as I listened to one, two, then three seniors singing the words of the hymns.

After almost ten minutes of playing the postlude, I rose from the piano bench to get ready to leave. I noticed that fully half of the seniors gathered there for the service had remained. They were listening to me, playing the piano. I stopped for a moment, realizing why they were still there. It was then that I heard the thanks. Sincere thank yous and gratitude coming from several of these dear seniors.

I quickly slogged several miles through the snow to the second retirement home, where this worship service was repeated. Again, the piano playing. The hymn singing was not quite as strong, but equally heartfelt. And after the worship, I again played a number of hymns for the postlude.

I wonder if this piano playing was the most important thing I’ve done all week, in God’s eyes? And afterwards, to have several of these dear seniors say ‘thank you’ with such sincerity and gratitude? I know many in this youth-oriented (even youth-worshipping) culture do not put much stock in their seniors. Many thoughtless or uncaring people today consider them to be not-as-important. Even forgettable.  The descriptive word to reference them is no longer ‘elders’ but ‘seniors.’ This telling change in vocabulary begins to show the shift in thinking.

Thank God that I was available and able to play the piano at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had this revelation. What a way for me to be kind and tenderhearted, as Paul reminded the believers in Ephesus. Please, God, show me how to be kind and tenderhearted tomorrow, too.

@chaplaineliza