said the mother who lost her 19-year-old son in a car accident to the mother who lost her 7-week-old embryo.
I know it’s Lent, not Advent, but we just performed this song live on March 2 and I thought it could be worth sharing:
These lyrics were written in the hopeful early days of thinking about a child and expecting one. I would get up early each morning, go down to the basement, sit on the floor, and sing.
Today marks four weeks exactly for the date I count as the “date of death,” the official day we lost our baby.
Today marks the first time I needed to write a sermon, post-loss. When it’s my turn to preach, I take Thursday morning to write from home, looking out at the drizzly rain. Today I couldn’t do it. The last time I preached at our church is the day the miscarriage began. I couldn’t conceive of going back to writing sermons — what would I say?
How do you talk of the Good News when sometimes there are no words? How do you reassure people they should have hope, when you might not have hope — or, at least, might not be ready to talk about hope just yet?
As with every other Thursday, I finally wrote the sermon. I decided to make this sermon’s Good News simply that we can express all our grief and pain to God — that God gave us books like Lamentations (a.k.a. “Complaints”) for just that reason. We have permission to bring it all to God and not force ourselves to rush to hope.
My comfort comes in knowing God gives us this freedom.
* a quote from my dad after I called him for help this afternoon
- I went running.
- I took a hot bath.
- I ate Caesar salad dressing.
- I ate sesame seeds.
- I ate smoked salmon.
- My prenatal vitamin says these statements haven’t been analyzed by the FDA.
- I tried to sneeze quietly when my husband was asleep.
- I strained too hard to poop when I was in the church bathroom and only had thirty seconds before someone else would come in.
- I ate celery that had white mold on the ends but I cut the ends off.
- I carried Christmas decorations up to the church attic.
- I wasn’t constipated enough. Other pregnant women are constipated.
- I never threw up. Other mothers throw up.
- I cried too hard when the spotting began.
The sermon is based on John 9:1-7. The title is “Everything Happens
for a Reason.” If you, too, are done with that saying, click here to listen to the person who inspired me to delete that phrase from my vocabulary.
When I was in Divinity School, my preaching professor admitted, “It’s hard to choose which issue of justice is most important. Race? sexual equality? poverty? refugees?” He had sat through all our sermons, all our worries, and it’s true they were all over the map. In the face of so much injustice, we were tempted to despair.
“For me,” he said, “the main thing is creation care. That’s what it all has to come back to. If the world isn’t here anymore, in just a few generations…then what’s it all for?”
His words came to mind when I read this blurb just before Election Day:
I’m almost a single-issue voter. I’m not, but my thinking about … elected officials and what their purposes are begins and ends with how they approach health care. My thinking certainly visits all the other issues along the way … but number one among all the issues for me is health care. My reason for that is that I believe that you can’t really effect* positive change in any other area if your body (or your child’s body, or your partner’s body) is sick or not working. Nor can you effect change if you’re struggling to pay for – or even get – vital medicine for yourself or a family member. Nor, again, can you effect change in areas you care about if you’re in significant debt for medical care you’ve already received. You can even have a hard time effecting change in the political issues you care about if you merely live with the specter of not being able to access or pay for medical care for yourself or your family.
I think both men make a good point. Maybe I’d give a slight edge to Rob Delaney, over my preaching professor, because it’s true that we can’t advocate for environmental justice if our ill bodies are draining away all our advocating energy. Plus my prof said it’s basically too late anyway.
* Delaney is an intelligent man who can properly use “effect” as a verb.
Most people can’t; please don’t attempt it.
Photo © Photodisc (via Thinkstock photos)
It was hot the day I visited the prison. A guard in a tower watched me like the sun.
Arriving wasn’t easy. I passed through multiple doors, went through security, waited to be buzzed through multiple gates. Finally I got to the lobby, where I gathered with others.
We were all from the outside, and we’d come to pray with those inside as part of a prison ministry weekend event. We chatted nervously until finally a guard came to escort us to the prison gym. We lined up and passed through another door, into a holding chamber.
It was crowded. [Read more.]