Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Church Newsletter Reflection

[The following is from the February Newsletter of St Peter’s Episcopal Church, North Lake, WI www.StPetesNorthLake.0rg :

A Note from Your Priest…

Last month my notes were written at the U.W. Hospital just after Sabine was admitted with kidney failure and high blood pressures. During the last month a lot has happened (as many of you know by following my almost daily weblog. We now are living with cancer. Sabine has multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

I have two close friends of mine that have lost loved ones. I am sad to say that they both blame God for what happened. After all, God is an easy “fall guy” for a lot of our pain and suffering and what’s wrong with the world.

But seeing that I am a priest, the most pastoral thing I can do right now is to share with you my theological reflection on “when bad things happen to good people.” And, certainly, Sabine, being ill with this terrible and vicious disease, is a very good example of a bad thing happening to a very good person.

[On the other hand, I would have to admit when bad things befall me, I could take refuge in the fact that I deserve all I have received – or, “the guy had it coming to him.” But then this is not about me – but about Sabine (the mantra of the Couper-Lobitz clan.)]

So where is God in all this? Well, right here. Standing shoulder to shoulder with us in this less-than-perfect world. And if I should from time to time state that I hear the strange rustle of angel wings during my woodland walks, I will attribute that to your love and prayers. Or as an old friend recently reminded me that he, being a “pagan” could not pray for Sabine but that he would send her loving thoughts. And my reply was simply a hearty thank you and that God would gladly use his loving thoughts for her care.

As a people of faith, we pray for healing, but most of us back away from the thought that God doesn’t work on our timetable – God is not our theological marionette – to be used by us, but rather for us to be used by God.

If we can rest in the truly acknowledged fact that God loves us as a parent loves a child, then what happens may not be best for us in the short term but rather the term of eternity. (Now if we don’t believe in eternity, that is another matter!). But as for me, I choose to hold an eternal view – that God is who God says God is – the God of the Hebrew and Christian sacred texts.

And that we can pray for “this cup” to pass by just as Jesus did and not having it removed from our hands, we can say “Lord, not my will, but yours be done” because God has the eternal view – a view you and I may struggle with from time to time and when we see we see only darkly.

During my walks in our woods I have heard the rustle of wings (and they are neither hawks nor turkeys). I recently heard the wonderful Taize hymn in my head again and again: “Come and fill her with your love, for you alone are Holy; Come and fill her with your love, Alleluia!”

Thanks so much for being such a warm and loving assembly of Christ-followers. You, again, have shown me and Sabine the face of Jesus.

Keep a Blessed and Holy Lent,


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