“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:1-4 (NRSV)
“Grandpa, Hold You!”
by Rev. Rick Pittenger
About a dozen persons have attended our weekly Lenten study that lasts two more weeks. It’s called “Living Fully and Dying Well.” It was written by Bishop Rueben Job, who died in January of this year at the age of 86. Originally from South Central North Dakota, he was formerly Bishop of the Iowa Conference of the UMC. Bishop Job has written several books including The Prayer Guide for Ministers and Other Servants. It is a daily devotional that draws from a wealth of theologians and philosophers.
In our latest Chapter, Chapter 6, “Dying Well,” of the 8-week Study, Bishop Job describes how death is different for each one of us. It seems an appropriate way to lead us into this weekend and the last hours of Jesus’s life. He writes:
In death as in life we are unique. And no person’s experience is exactly like another’s. We all have images of what this great mystery will be like, but the truth is no one but God knows fully what this experience is like. Stories can sometimes carry the weight of truth too great for words. The following story may bring to your mind and heart important truth as you consider your own mortality and the promise of the gospel.
When our first grandson was about three years old, he and his mother came to our home in the woods for the evening meal. They arrived early and his father was working late, so his mother and grandmother suggested that I take Sam for a walk in the woods.
It was autumn, and we stuffed the pockets of [our] jackets . . . full of black walnuts before we made our way into the woods. The sun had set as we made our way down a steep incline to a small pond. There we stopped and Sam squealed with delight as he threw nut after nut into the pond and laughed with pleasure after each splash.
Soon we were out of nuts, and Sam took my hand as we began our climb up the hill toward home. It was nearly dark, and the woods were scary to a three-year-old. Sam grabbed my leg and said, “Grandpa, hold you.” It was his way of saying, “Grandpa, carry me!”
I picked him up and rested his weight on my left hip. With my left arm low across his body and my right arm across his shoulders, we continued our slow climb up the hill.
Occasionally Sam would turn around and look up the hill, but there was nothing but deep darkness and unknown mystery.
However, after a few more minutes of walking he looked around again and saw lights through the leaves.
And quick as a flash of light he shouted out, “Grandmas [sic] house!” He wriggled to get down and walk beside me once more.
He reached up and we walked hand in hand out of the darkness of the woods, across the lawn, up the back steps, and into the warmth, light, and love of home.
It is a journey we will all make, and there is nothing to fear as we walk hand in hand with the One to whom we belong, our faithful Savior in this life, in death, and in life that never ever ends.
Who could ask for more?
Thanks be to God, it is enough!
(“Living Fully, Dying Well, by Reuben Job, p. 60)
As you and I gather with our family and friends this Easter, may you experience the joy of being home temporarily as together we look forward to all being together in our eternal home, a house not made with hands, yet eternal in the heavens.
See you Sunday Morning!
He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!