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Psalm 90

 

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, "Return, O children of man!" For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! (ESV)

 

In Memoriam

Thursday of Easter 3

9 May 2014

When my grandparents grew old they longed for rescue from the wickedness of the world. When my father was killed in an auto accident, they yearned to substitute themselves. They lamented to me, "The Lord should have taken us. We've lived long enough. Your father was too young." Some of that was the desire for true sacrifice, so that they could substitute their lives for the other. Some of their desire was the genuine longing to be united with Christ face to face, although they might not have been able to articulate the longing. This longing was a kind of holy jealousy of those who die in the Lord who have inherited the full glory of heaven with its freedom from sin and suffering. How blessed are the dead who have died in the Lord and how we long to share the same blessedness.

 

When I was a child I always spent a couple of weeks every summer on the farm with my grandparents. It was a child's paradise: fresh air, good food, room to roam, farm animals to consider, and a barn to play in. How I looked forward to those weeks of freedom. There was only one time when my freedom was absolutely restricted by my grandparents. At midday the only radio station they were able to tune broadcast a program called "In Memoriam." The program was a listing of the people who had died in the community and the various funeral arrangements that had been made by their families. My grandparents listened solemnly to those names; names of childhood friends, old neighbors, church members, and shirt-tail relatives. During this time of solemn listening I was forbidden to talk or to move. I hated "In Memoriam" because I thought death would never touch me and because it forced me to be still. After the program was over my grandparents would reminisce about the people who had died and make their plans to go to the funeral home or the service to "pay respects." As my grandparents aged they heard the people of their generation intoned into death until almost all their contemporaries were gone. Then they also lamented the loss of the generation that was following them. Increasingly, they longed to be added to that number whose names were read out on "In Memoriam."

 

Christ has come to rescue us from this present evil age (Gal 1:4) and my grandparents longed for that rescue to be brought to its full realization. In due time it was. Their jealousy of the blessed dead was rewarded with an intonation of their names on "In Memoriam." They had faced enough struggles and sorrows in their lives and were anxious for eternal rest with Christ. They had battled the trouble stirred up in their own wicked hearts and underwent a volley of storms that passed over their lives like the violent tempests that swept over the fields of their farm, lashing the land with jagged sheets of wind-driven rain. They were ready for rest and knew that they had it in Christ. And so Christ in his mercy translated them from "In Memoriam" to knowing fully as they were known (1Co 13:12).

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"What else is there in the world than a battle against the devil daily carried on, than a struggle against his darts and weapons in constant conflicts? Our warfare is with avarice, with immodesty, with anger, with ambition; our diligent and laboring wrestle with carnal vices, with the enticements of the world. The mind of man besieged, and in every quarter surrounded by the attacks of the devil. Scarcely at each point he meets the attack, and scarcely resists it. If avarice is prostrated, lust springs up. If lust is overcome, ambition takes its place. If ambition is despised, anger exasperates, pride puffs up, wine-drinking entices, envy breaks concord, jealousy cuts friendship; you are constrained to curse, which the divine law forbids; you are compelled to swear, which is not lawful.

 

"So many persecutions the soul suffers daily, with so many risks is the heart wearied, and yet it delights to abide here long among the devil's weapons, although it should rather be our craving and wish to hasten to Christ by the aid of a quicker death; as He Himself instructs us, and says, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy' (Jn 16:20). Who would not desire to be without sadness? Who would not hasten to attain to joy? But when our sadness shall be turned into joy, the Lord Himself again declares, 'I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you' (Jn 16:22). Since, therefore, to see Christ is to rejoice, we cannot have joy unless we shall see Christ. What blindness of mind or what folly it is to love the world's afflictions, punishments, and tears, and not rather to hasten to the joy which can never be taken away!"

 

Cyprian of Carthage, On Mortality, 4-5

 
Prayer

Jesus, lead Thou on till our rest is won. And although the way be cheerless, we will follow calm and fearless. Guide us by Thy hand to our fatherland. Amen. (LSB 718)

 

For President Lawrence Rast, and the faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN, that they would be supported in every need

 

For all police and public safety officials, that they might be kept safe in the proper execution of their duties 

For the Board of Regents of Concordia University Chicago, that they might be upheld in every good deed

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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