It’s been such a rough week on the national scene that I can’t bear to think about politics for one more minute. Instead, I’ve been thinking about just what I’m doing here on a blog, of all places. And about what I’m doing in the United Methodist Church, which often seems at odds with my deeply-held political leanings.
These days, the Bible verse that I find myself repeating most often – and it’s been with me for a couple of years now – is Paul’s question in his letter to the Romans: “What, then, are we to say about these things?” It certainly fits here and now, on a blog for progressive United Methodists.
I stumbled across Paul’s question when I was called upon to read some Bible verses at the funeral of one of my family’s oldest and dearest friends. Joe was a retired railroad mechanic and a recovering alcoholic who had remained sober for nearly 30 years. Through AA and the Shriners, in his neighborhood and everywhere he went, he reached out to anyone who needed a hand. He touched hundreds of lives, even as his health failed. Joe never stepped foot inside a church except for weddings and funerals, but he lived as Christian a life, in the sense of following Christ’s example, as anyone I ever knew.
Joe had waited for years to be eligible for a lung transplant operation. In the spring of 2007, near death and in constant pain, nearly housebound, he and his wife Sharon got the call – a set of lungs was available. They were told to leave the Ozarks immediately and drive to St. Louis for the surgery. Lots of folks don’t survive a double lung transplant, but Joe did. With Sharon constantly by his side, he made it through the rehabilitation process much faster than any of the doctors predicted. He and Sharon returned to the Ozarks and life returned to normal. Then, just a few months later, the new lungs developed an infection and Joe was gone
As I looked for some verses to read at his funeral, I turned to the eighth chapter of Romans to pull out the traditional passage about neither life nor death separating us from the love of God in Christ. But the verse that hit me, that seemed most . . . right, was verse 31: “What, then, are we to say about these things?” Sometimes, there really is nothing to say, no easy explanation, no tidy comfort. Joe’s death certainly was one of those times. So was this week in national politics, at least for me. Continue reading What, Then, Are We To Say About These Things?