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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Friday, October 17, 2008

SERVICE IN COMMEMORATION OF
NATIONAL BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
SUNDAY OCTOBER 19, 2008 8AM and 10:45AM

Romans 8:31-37
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,"For your sake we are being killed all day long;we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered."No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We step away from the regular three year lectionary readings this Sunday for our annual healing liturgy in commemoration of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Our fifth by my count.
Our second reading this Sunday, comes from Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
+++++++

The phone rings and mom’s voice is strained.
It had been a week of waiting. A week for me anyway. Longer for her.
What exactly goes through a woman’s mind when she finds a lump in her breast; her private thoughts; her private fears, her concerns. What fills her waking moments during those hours, days and nights? This I do not know. Mom had lived with the lump for weeks. Then the doctor’s appointment. Then the tests and biopsies. Then the waiting. The painful, long waiting. On a Monday morning nearly two years ago the phone rang. Mom straining to speak; confiding, confessing, revealing. The word “cancer” comes out. In strength and weakness. In tears and concern.

What then shall we say to these things?

No trace of it in the family, not a smoker, mom.
Snuck into a lymph node, just one. Tilting the percentages just a bit, which can seem stark when the issue is a person’s life. My mother’s life.
I’m her rock she tells me. Her son. The pastor. She asks for prayer.
Have you ever prayed over the phone for your mother who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer?

I can’t imagine that fraternity is large, but, I could easily be mistaken.
Shift modes, change hats, son, pastor, rock.
What then shall we say to these things?
Successful surgery, recovery, pineapple drains stay in far too long, stitches and dressings. Dad becomes a cook, a nurse, a companion along the way. I learn big words and research chemotherapy combinations. Infusions come and go and blood counts fall. Fainting spells and new medication costing ten times our monthly car payment enter the picture. Thank God for insurance. They approve. Counts come up, but other issues arrive. Off the medicine. Counts go down.. Infusions continue. Months pass. Good days and bad days and tough days and sad days.

What then shall we say to these things?

Then it is done. Hair still in place. Port removed. Reconstruction on the horizon. Tests clear. And now another year in the can. Scans clear again.
What then shall we say to these things?

Well, as a son, pastor and rock I imagine that I should have a lot to say.

Paul says that we are more than conquerors who him who loved us. Loved us enough to take on the same frail flesh. The flesh of lumps and biopsies and scars. Marked by ports and blood test pricks and IV’s. The same flesh that feels the pain, that remembers long after. We are more than conquerors. Not just victors. Not just triumphant. No we are more.

We are more.

We are more because Christ’s love for us knows no limits, no boundaries.
Christ himself crossed the boundary into death. Destroyed the power of death for you and for me.
Did so in order that whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord’s. Safe in his love, his peace, his strength, his embrace.
We are the Lord’s.

When I was a kid, I thought that my mother was indestructible. Oh, I am sure that she got sick from time to time, but I took no notice. Nothing slowed her down, nothing crushed her spirit. And I am sure that many nights she took her concerns for my and for my sisters to God in prayer. She cooked, she cleaned, she folded clothes like nobody’s business. And she still does, though we wish that she would slow down a bit and sometimes her body makes her take a breather. Two years have passed since the phone rang and the woman who once prayed for me and likely still does, asked me to return the favor; her son, the pastor, her rock.

We think rocks are strong. But they crack and splinter. They wear and turn to dust in time. Big rocks become smaller ones and then turn to dust. And so it would always be except that God could not stand for us to be dust again.
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We are not dust, but through Christ we are more than conquerors. We are children of God and inheritors of God’s Kingdom. We who were no people, have become God’s people. And God will not suffer to let us go. And in that love is a strength that knows no bounds. No limits. A strength in which we now share. A strength through which we now live triumphant even in the most difficult times.

Amen.

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