My German speaking is less than impressive. Not less than nothing, but closer to nothing than impressive. However, I can offer this, which occurs to me this morning, “Gott ist mit uns.”
Today is Easter Monday. Years—make that decades ago—the highlight for many women at St. Pauls Church, my first church, but deeper truth my seminary for 3 and a half years, was the Easter Monday luncheon. It was more than that. It was filled with life and laughter, lots of joy. Didn’t need the trumpets or the incredible choir. Not that they are unneeded, but on this particular Monday, life froze for a moment and “AHA” was better than good…maybe goodest?
On one of those Easter Mondays there was music. Acappella music by a guy they had never met before…and as fate fashioned its design, would never again see. Introduced him as my friend. That was good enough. His official name was Edward Redding. His in life name was Bunky. And he sang. Incredible it was. He sang “Faith of our Fathers,” and the women loved it. He sang “Amazing Grace” and they wept. “How Great Thou Art!” and I bet the soaring of the soul happened…to each of them. The heavens rejoiced this Easter Monday…as did the ladies. Yes! He sang…didn’t matter…no one could ever argue that angels might also be men, yes in this instance, particularly this instance, an African American man!
What I didn’t tell them is that Bunky had just been released from Menard State Penitentiary, that his days of singing with Billie Holiday were over. That he would struggle to keep out of prison…but only, as we learned with pain and anguish, a month later, “Mark, please come to see me; I’m in Cook County Jail.”
The glory and the anguish. Was God there? Is God “there” anytime and anywhere and anyhow? Is God with Hannah as she continues the tough battle with anorexia? Is God with a dear friend whose position may be ripped from him? Is God with Christie as they continue to find meds to “un-agitate?” And with Joanne, the best caregiver in the world? With those who divorce? With Brian in the battle with brain cancer. [In that a joy, very possible, that Brian will catch his first salmon with Zorba this year…and his uncle Mark can help him to lift up the fishing pole and reel down to get the fish to the net.] Still, God? Are you….
To that, again Tom Ehrich brings a salvific word…to us all. About God…the God of Easter in affirming that death never wins, that physical death does not take away spiritual destiny, that today is a gift not a curse. So. Tom Ehrich? Thanks again…and for your permission to share with others, whenever it is timely and relevant…like right now:
“God is with us, not like us. God knows the flaws that hold us back, but God isn’t held back by them. When we choose death, God still chooses life. When we dismiss entire swaths of humankind as unworthy, God chooses humanity. When we take refuge in lies and surround ourselves with sycophants and weapons, God chooses the good.
Even when I make total hash of my day, God is with me in the living of that day. I just need to open my eyes. I might still take the wrong road, but at least I won’t find the easy lie that my path is the only path. Try as I might, I can’t make God a creature of my frailty.”
Yes, Gott ist mit uns! Verstehen? Okay…God is with us. Understand? I HOPE SO!