Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Resurrection of the Body

A huge cemetery. A blanket of snow dotted with thousands of evergreen wreaths tied with red ribbons. A group of mourners gathered around the casket and the hole in the dirt.

Does sound carry better over snow and ice than it does over a carpet of green grass? Was Pastor speaking particularly loudly to ensure that he was heard over the traffic on nearby highway? Whatever it was, his voice positively boomed that frigid day at the cemetery: "Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and merciful Savior, deliver us not into the bitterness of eternal death."

And we prayed, "I believe in ... the communion of saints ... the resurrection of the body ...." Umm, this is a cemetery; this place is full of saints! As you gaze across the snowy fields, recognizing that under each wreath a person is buried, you begin to wonder what this place is going to look like on the Last Day, and you begin to think about that last chapter in Narnia.

Not everybody in the cemetery is a believer -- but a whole lot of them are. When we buried Dad, Pastor Wright prayed "by Your three-day rest in the tomb You hallowed the graves of all who believe in You." But think about it: that's not true of only that one grave. Those same words have been prayed for centuries at Christian burials. His words were true of my grandparents' and great-grandparents' graves nearby.

And when we were burying Don the other day, Pastor's words were not about Don alone. Nor about us alone. But about all those saints sleeping around us: "By Your death You destroyed death" and "in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in Christ Jesus, who will change our lowly bodies to be like unto His glorious body ..."

God's Word certainly creates faith. God's Word certainly sustains and preserves faith. But God's Word also created and sustains stuff, the light and the land and the sea and the mountains and the trees and the critters. And it's good that His Word keep ringing out through the cemeteries, not just for the deceased's burial, not just for the mourners who are there for those few minutes, but for the sake of the creation and the brothers and sisters who are awaiting the morning of the new creation.

Today's Laugh

Save the whales!

Collect the whole set.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Today's Laugh

My friend's husband is always telling her that housekeeping would be a snap if only she would organize her time better. Recently he had a chance to put his theory into practice while his wife was away.

When I popped in one evening to see how he was managing, he crowed, "I made a cake, frosted it, washed the kitchen windows, cleaned all the cupboards, scrubbed the kitchen floor, walls, and ceiling, and even had a bath."

I was about to concede that perhaps he was a better manager than his wife, when he added sheepishly, "When I was making the chocolate frosting, I forgot to turn off the mixer before taking the beaters out of the bowl, so I had to do all the rest."

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Today's Laugh

Middle age is having the choice of two temptations, and choosing the one which will get you home earlier.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Acts 26:16

Paul is recounting his conversion to King Herod Agrippa, Queen Bernice, and Governor Festus. Jesus told him,
I have appeared to you for this purpose,
to make you a minister and a witness
both of the things which you have seen
and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

Gary has long posited that Saul/Paul observed much of Jesus' ministry. Paul was a Pharisee. All the other Jews knew him as one who'd spent his youth in Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 26:4). And Paul was in Jerusalem at the time of Stephen's ministry and martyrdom. Paul was busy imprisoning and murdering Christians (Acts 26:10).

Furthermore, there was no secret about what was happening with Jesus. Everybody knew about Zachariah seeing the angel in the temple, about John's birth, about the angels appearing to the shepherds, about Simeon's and Anna's proclamation of the arrival of the Messiah. During Jesus' ministry, crowds flocked to His preaching and for His miraculous healings. When He was on trial, He said they all knew what He taught; it was common public knowledge; He did nothing in secret. And the Pharisees had been spying on Jesus all along.

But even with all that common sense pointing to Paul's having been one of the Pharisees who was keeping track of Jesus, I couldn't be absolutely certain that Gary's theory was right. Then today I noticed this verse. Jesus told Paul at his conversion that He would make him a minister and a witness of the things which he had seen. We know that Paul had this mega hang-up that he didn't want to preach anything except Jesus' death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 2:2, among many others). So what was it Paul had seen that Jesus made him a witness of?

Today's Laugh

Courtroom testimony in a drunk-driving case:

Q: Trooper, when you stopped the defendant, were your red and blue lights flashing?
A: Yes.

Q: Did the defendant say anything when she got out of her car?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: What did she say?
A: What disco am I at?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

God Grew Tired of Us

We watched a documentary this weekend on the lost boys of Sudan.

1. One of the producers of the film was National Geographic Society. Nevertheless, it still came out (briefly) in the film that this was a war of the Muslims against the Christians, that this was genocide. There were also references in the movie to the faith of the refugees, such as their confusion at America's celebration of Christmas because, in their country, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ.

2. Boy, do we live a cushy life here.

3. The guys being interviewed often spoke of missing their parents. Again and again there were comments about "not having parents to take care of us." These were men in their 20s. They were capable of getting around town, holding down a job, cooking their own food, etc. Yet they recognized something important about having parents, something that I think isn't recognized in America.

4. Similar to a recognition of the importance of parents, the guys recognized the importance of family. It was hard for them to leave the refugee camp and their companions, even though they knew they would have more temporal goods. When they arrived in America, they lived with only a few other refugees in an apartment. Their jobs took them away from the apartment, so that they could go for days without seeing their "family." And that was unsettling to them. It didn't seem right that earning money should separate them from loved ones so much of the time.

Today's Laugh

A young man asked an old rich man how he made his money.

The old guy fingered his worsted wool vest and said, "Well, son, it was 1932. The depth of the Great Depression. I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents.

"The next morning, I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 pm for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I'd accumulated a fortune of $1.37.

"Then my wife's father died and left us two million dollars."

Monday, December 28, 2009


When I was 28, I realized I could no longer eat pizza after 9:00 at night without some seriously weird dreams. When I was in my mid-40s, I realized that the delight of a frozen custard on my tastebuds wasn't enough to compensate for the effect the sugar-high had on an empty stomach. And now I'm realizing that the feasting that goes with Christmas is more than my body can bear, and it must be reigned in and controlled.

Hey, all you young folks. Enjoy it while you can!

Today's Laugh

"What kind of work do you do?" a woman passenger inquired of the man traveling in her train compartment.

"I'm a Naval surgeon," he replies.

"My word!" spluttered the woman, "How you doctors specialize these days."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Shut In

As Pastor was reviewing Old Testament stories today, he was pointing out how God is always the one doing the doing in the stories. One example he gave is that God was the engineer for the ark, God was the one who brought the animals to Noah, and God was the one who shut Noah and his family into the ark. Noah didn't shut himself in.

Jesus didn't shut himself into the tomb either. He was put in, and the door was closed. Hmm.


Do you know how many stanzas of All My Heart This Night Rejoices they cut out of LSB??? (The answer is 60%. Do you think I will reconcile myself to that before I die?) I came home on Christmas Eve and played piano and sang the rest of it -- several times. Gary got out the violin and joined in on melody. Cool, eh?

We shall call this year "The Christmas of the Hair-Straightening"

Birthday girl, with straight hair, wearing her new Illini shirt. With straighter hair, we were calling her "Katie" all day long. It was freaky! I thought they looked alike, but, boy oh boy, straighten Mag's hair and then they really look alike!

Concentrating on the Qwirkle game --

Christmas ribbons nabbed off a present from Grandma made Rachel's hair look festive!

Now, why would you touch the filthy poker for the fireplace?

Oh, that face is more handsome than the last snapshot.

Caught a lot of nice-looking shots of Philip this week.

Gary's known at work as the guy with the interesting ties. Gumby is a favorite.

Aw. Isn't that romantic? Sharing their present-opening.

Katie. Or not. Maybe Miss-Maggie-of-the-Straight-Hair

Captain Andrew-of-the-Straight-Hair. Piratical earring. And a parrot cat on his shoulder.

Today's Laugh

Chris and his wife had just finished tucking their young ones into bed one evening when they heard crying coming from the children's room. Rushing in, they found Tommy crying hysterically.

He had accidentally swallowed a nickel and was sure he was going to die. No amount of talking could change his mind. Trying to calm him, Chris palmed a nickel that he happened to have in his pocket and pretended to remove it from Tommy's ear. Tommy, naturally, was delighted. In a flash, he snatched it from his father's hand, swallowed it and demanded cheerfully, "Do it again, Dad!"