SO FAR, SO GOOD
I've been home from the hospital for nearly five weeks. In that time I've been back for one follow-up appointment and a two-day nuclear radiology study. It's basically a check-up to make sure there's no recurrence of the pre-cancerous cells from the area of my GI tract where the polyp was removed two months ago. They also did scans to determine if there were any other abnormal cells elsewhere in my body.
I just received the report and everything looks good; the bloodwork is back to normal and the octreotide scans indicate no further problems. Connie and I are very thankful for that. They'll repeat the tests every so often, not because they expect it to be an ongoing problem but as a preventative measure. And for those of you wondering, yes, it's a very "X-Files-like” procedure. They assured me that the radioactive material they injected does not make your p** glow in the dark. Bummer.
I also chose to ignore the small print on the box that said, "Made in Chernobyl, Soviet Union." As I’ve said before, you’ve gotta know when to stop asking questions.
IT WAS GREAT WHILE IT LASTED
Just when you thought it was never going to happen, summer arrived last weekend! The first day we spent most of our time outside on the patio. Lots of sun, a nice breeze and a high around 80. The second day was more cloudy but still warm and breezy. Then the third day it turned much colder. The high was nearly 50 degrees lower than the day before. The wind turned much harsher and heavy rain changed to snow showers late in the day. But, for those two days we had a wonderful time. I guess what they say about the seasons getting shorter is true. It was a great summer, 2014. See you again next year!
No doubt you’ve been following some of the coverage of the search for Flight 370. It’s hard to get away from it. But one thing really bothers me and for once it’s not Wolf Blitzer’s incessant blather. It’s the Malaysian government’s complete incompetence at handling the situation. From the lack of cooperation shown to other governments and investigative bodies to their ineptness at handling the media frenzy to the deplorable way the families of those on the flight have been treated, the Malaysian government has shown itself confused, contradictory and without any capable leadership or chain of authority. It astounds me that every other day their story changes or they reveal information they’ve known about for weeks but are just now disclosing. I applaud the efforts of the victim’s families to seek the truth and put vocal, public pressure on the Malaysian government. I know Malaysia doesn’t have the resources or technology the U.S.does. But that’s no excuse. The tragedy is horrible enough; it’s a shame and a disgrace that it’s compounded by this ship of fools that purports to be a responsible government.
And if you think it couldn’t happen to you, a long-time friend of mine who travels internationally on business took that same flight last October. We never know how close we might be…but for the grace of God. (see below)
LET EASTER BE EASTER
This Sunday thousands of churches and places of worship will celebrate our Lord's resurrection. There will be beautiful floral arrangements, "special" music and an Easter sermon marked by triumphalism, heralding God's victory over the forces of darkness. From high church liturgical to the unadorned, followers of Christ will gather to sing, pray and listen to the familiar story once again.
Easter is a lot like Christmas in that way. Christmas is the realization of God's presence in our world. Now God had a face; an embodiment in human form. It brought hope to the world. Easter, in a sense, is the culmination of that story. Yes, he was born. He grew into a man and entered into ministry in the final years of his life. His life - his human life - ended while he was still in his thirties.
Our understanding of Easter is far different from what those alive at that time could grasp. It's impossible for us to look back without applying the filters of historical knowledge and our own social and cultural biases. That's not necessarily bad, but it is inevitable. So what do we do with centuries of scriptural study and interpretation? Is our understanding so complete that we can reduce the mystery and grandeur of God’s plan into a PowerPoint presentation? Does Easter become an event or, worse yet, a cliché?
Have we homogenized the Easter story to the point that it lacks the rough edges of truth and finality? In order to use the Story as a means of evangelism, especially when it comes to the WFCE* crowd, are we preaching assertions as fact? And while the message of Easter brings hope and the prospect of eternal redemption, are we giving people the sense that the only requirement is to make a passing acknowledgment of the Cross, say "Yes" to Jesus, then enjoy all the benefits?
God help us if we are.
The message of Easter is, at the same time, simple and complex. It doesn't only exist as historical fact. If properly presented and understood it will cut through your soul and being like a sword. It alone has the power to turn the temporal into the eternal. It is the DNA of God's desire for mankind and a source of damnation for those who reject it.
This week, as we walk toward the inevitable horror - through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday - look deeply into your heart. Look to see if there is "any wicked way" within you. If there is, purge it. You cannot worship God with a divided heart. Come to the Cross but always - always approach with a humble spirit, knowing that nothing we have done could merit his favor. And bear in mind if there is any good within us it is solely because God's spirit is working in us through the power of the Cross. We have nothing to take credit for in this transaction.
So let Easter be Easter! Celebrate the triumph of light over darkness! "Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!" Let the praises ring out, "He is risen! He is risen indeed!" But as you don your Easter finery and sing with the choir and prepare your family dinner, keep in mind the deep significance Easter holds. Its truth will never diminish and the power of the Cross will never be vanquished. The resurrection should be alive in us not just on Easter; but the day after that and the day after that and...well, you know what I mean. Amen.
Now let us go out and be his church. And live by his power. Happy Easter.
* The WFCE crowd - weddings, funerals, Christmas and Easter.