Crazy-wonderful God

Dear Ones,

Yesterday my congregation held its final services in our beloved church in Newport Beach where we have worshiped for over 70 years.  With all my heart, I longed to attend at least one of the morning three services, but my recovering body wouldn’t let me.  So I sat in my recovery chair and prayed throughout the morning until I knew that the final song for the final service was concluded and the final dismissal had been given.

"THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING"  Last song, last Sunday, September 15, 2013.
“THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING” Last song, last Sunday, September 15, 2013.

During the hours of worship, I got marvelous little text messages from some of our parishioners with pictures and short videos from the services. Especially compelling was the video that showed our rector, the Rev. Richard Crocker, leading the congregation out of the church with a shepherd’s crook in one hand and a Bible in the other.  Then the Church standing together on that lovely patio and singing together,

“O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
to tell to all the world that God is Light;
that He who made all nations is not willing,
one soul should fail to know His love and might.
Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace, tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.”

I know it wasn’t an easy day for anyone — saying goodbye is so painful.   It was a tough day for many and yes, it was a tough day for me.  Tears were appropriate, but not despair.  Sadness was called for, but not defeat.   And the pictures and videos I received showed me exactly that — tears, sadness, but not despair and not defeat!

So as I prayed through yesterday, even into this morning, I once again remembered how this cancer storm of mine has had so many parallels for me with the experience of our church being taken from us.  With the cancer and the church, though I/we are experiencing loss … WE ARE NOT LOST.  We are entirely secure in Christ Jesus.

Paul speaks of this dichotomy (a contrast between two things as being opposed or entirely different) especially in 2 Corinthians 4 as he describes the Christian experience when he says,

“8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned;struck down, but not destroyed.”

Eugene Peterson in The Message renders it this way,

“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken … While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!”

That’s what cancer has been for me — a crazy-wonderful dichotomy of being battered, terrorized, thrown down and going through the worst!  Yet in the midst of that “awful-ness”, Prince Philip and I are surprisingly not demoralized or broken.  In fact, it has been for us the BEST TIME OF OUR LIVES.

Crazy-wonderful dichotomy.  Crazy-wonderful God.

And that is what it will be for St. James Anglican Church as with so many other faithful Anglicans who have had to leave their beloved property.  It won’t be easy and we will be a bit battered, thrown about, and we will have to go through some tough days!  But if we surrender to God’s perfect will, keep our eyes on Jesus, and do what we’ve been given to do in the power of the Spirit, Paul promises that while we go through the worst of times, we will actually be experiencing the BEST TIME OF OUR LIVES.

So here’s to the next chapter for St. James Anglican Church!  Here’s to the best time of our 70+ year history.  And here’s to crazy-wonderful dichotomies and the crazy-wonderful God who makes them to be for us the way of Christian living!

Faith Suffering

6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Dearest Cathie.

    A beautiful experience to share with one another. Your intercession so felt by all of us. God has our future determined! Our trust in God is unshakeable! Praying for the day you will be back with us! Penny

  2. Psalm 25:4-5
    New Living Translation (NLT)
    4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
    5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.

  3. How oddly synchronous that you & we both missed the closing services because of our personal medical crises, yet God did not miss the services, you, or us — he is with us in every place of need & plenty we find ourselves! It is not about our lack or limitations, but about his power & limitless bounty! Praise God!

  4. We wanted to attend a final service with our St James family, due to some medical problems Lorraine is experiencing, we are so sorry we could not be there. We look forward to visiting with you in the new worship place that God has provided. Sending our love & blessing to our St James family. GOD IS SO GOOD & FAITHFUL HE WILL NEVER LEAVE OR FORSAKE US!! AMEN

  5. As the congregation left the Sanctuary I stood at the back and watched everyone file out. We had many families come to celebrate a new beginning for the St. James Congregation, Their were some tears that slipped down their cheeks, including mine but I also saw HOPE. We felt your presence and know that our God will give you great joy when you come to Worship in our new place. Be patient with yourself as we would rather wait for you to be healed then to have a relapse. You are loved by all of us.

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