By Krissa Rumsey
You can’t go wrong with the Beatitudes. They were one of the readings on Sunday. When I was younger, they would always bring to mind the scene from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. An old man who cannot hear well is standing in the back of the crowd and asks for clarification on what Jesus said. “Did he say blessed are the cheese-makers?” The man asks. “No!” an annoyed member of the crowd responds. “He said peace-makers….peace-makers!”
While I still find this scene funny, the beatitudes hit a bit closer to home the older I get. As I age and so, too, the people around me, I am confronted by how many are “poor in spirit”, how many “mourn”, and how many “suffer.”
In my relatively small universe, consisting of a work life at WCC, a small community-life in Milan, a church life and other assorted circles, the amount of suffering and sorrow is often overwhelming. In my small circles, there are two women I know who lost their 40-something year old husbands suddenly to heart attacks. That represents a total of five children without fathers.
In my small universe, there are five friends who have been recently divorced. Some balance their new lifestyles better than others, but all are extremely lonely and are often on the edge of coping with it all.
In my small universe, there are friends in financial distress, there are those seeking work, several are caring for aging parents, which, in the case of two of them, has completely disrupted their already full lives. I have at least four close friends who have lost their parents in recent years…all of them much sooner than they would’ve hoped. And I have one friend who lost an infant child, which is unimaginable to me.
My husband and his sibling lost their mother before three of her grandchildren were even born. One of my husband’s sisters has had to face the reality that she can’t have children. It breaks my heart that I could go on and on with this list. And this is just in my small universe. What is the suffering in your universe? What is the suffering for you?
As I age and so, too, the people around me, I am confronted by how many are “poor in spirit”, how many “mourn”, and how many “suffer.”
Pastor’s message on Sunday reminded us that there is hope for those who suffer, for those who are broken, for those who have lost. He talked about the fullness of God’s glory being veiled for those who have fallen…all of us.
I imagine the veil is heavier for those I know who are mired in suffering and brokenness. My prayer is that they will begin to see through it toward the glory our dear Father promises.
While I have observed many friends in my universe suffer unbearably, I have also observed many of them run to the cross in response. Others have meandered there. Others have peeked at it and others are still searching. The cross is the place where we can look and then stop looking, reminding us where our hope and our promise lives–in the body of Jesus that succumbed to the suffering but then overcame it.
I attended early service on Sunday, which I rarely do, and found the words to one of the hymns we sang so comforting that I could almost not contain my tears. (Thank you, Lord, for those wonderful hymns! It was such a gift to sing them).
Though there are five wonderful verses, allow me to share just two from “Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise,” which reminds us one day the veil will be lifted to reveal “the holy, holy, holy celebration jubilee.” (Note: I have changed the word “thine” to “yours” because I like it better that way.)
Yours the life eternally, Yours the promise let there be, Yours the vision, Yours the tree, all the earth on bended knee. Gone the nailing, gone the railing, Gone the pleading, gone the cry. Gone the sighing, gone the dying, what was loss, lifted high.
Yours the kingdom, Yours the prize, Yours the wonderful surprise, Yours the banquet, Yours the praise, yours the justice of thy ways. Yours the glory, yours the story, then the welcome to the least. Yours the wonder all in increasing, at your feast, at your feast.