The past few days my family and I have spent in
, the city where I grew up. We came to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. The big events were a meal at my brother’s home yesterday, and then worship with a short reception afterwards this morning at my dad’s church, followed by lunch at his favorite pizza place at noon. Everyone wasn’t able to come but we had members of four generations and it was a good gathering for us. With the exception of my family, all who gathered have now returned home, with home being as near as Milwaukee Milwaukee’s suburbs and as far as . New York City
So this evening, in the quiet, I browsed through a copy of a magazine I only skim at my mom’s place, the New Yorker, and I saw an ad for a new CD by Leonard Cohen that caught my eye, Old Ideas.
Cohen is, I believe, an acquired taste. About 25 years ago I tried to acquire it, buying one of his albums but never really “getting it” and eventually discarding the album. I’m not intending to grasp Cohen’s music now but what really caught my attention in the ad was the CD’s title, as well as the title of several of the songs on it.
As I said, the CD is called Old Ideas. The songs listed in the ad that drew my attention are Darkness and Going Home. These titles all come together as I think about worshipping in my father’s church this morning.
Worship opened with an announcement by the pastor to the congregation. He shared with the congregation the sudden death of a church member, someone whom I understood that most of the church knew, someone they expected to be gathered with them each Sunday. He was just 57 years old, had fallen in his home, and was found dead.
After sharing this news the worship service began. In addition to the preaching of the word and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper there was also a baptism this morning. In that hour or so of worship we took notice of new life, in a four month-old girl receiving the sacrament that marks the church’s claim on her, and we took notice of one member reaching a milestone of a long life. And we were reminded of life’s tenuous nature, in noting the passing on of a familiar face, once ever-present and vibrant and now not to be seen in this world again. And we were gathered around the Lord’s Table, sharing in that sacrament that serves as a sign and seal of God’s promises to his people.
We live in the 21st century but need to be reminded that the ideas, the promises that God has made clear in his word, may be thought of as “Old Ideas” but that they are also very real promises, promises without any “expiration date.” In John 1:4-5 the Evangelist writes,
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The opening message from the pastor this morning reminds us that our life may end at any time. In his word God promises us that his light shines…always. It shines in our celebrations. It shines in our grieving. And his most profound promise is that through his son that all of us who gather in his name, who gather around his table, will one day be “Going Home” to that place he has prepared, where we will be gathered with Jesus, our Lord and Savior, forever.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.