What I wrote for announcements last Sunday:
Dear People of Immanuel Lutheran Church:
Recently my father has been hospitalized, twice. He has a leaky valve in his heart, and fluid is tending to build up in his lungs. In May he had a heart catheterization and got a stent, and has had a hard recovery. This week he was released, bought a walker, and has gone home to rebuild his strength. At the same time, Kathy’s mom took a bad fall and broke her leg. She too is at home, learning how to get around with a walker. Both of us have brothers who are near to our parents and are helping lots, for which we are grateful. But the fact of our parents’ mortality is becoming a bit more real to us. My own need to work on lowering my cholesterol level is becoming more urgent, cutting back on cheese and red meat; staying active, to support my heart and everything else I do.
In times of stress and sorrow, it’s easy to get cranky or frustrated. It’s normal. I think the trick is to push through that initial resistance or negativity, and see what’s underneath. Maybe it’s fear that a loved one is leaving us or discomfort about the ways our life is about to change. Naming that can help us remember to turn to God for support, for guidance, for the fount of love that will carry us through hard times.
When life gets overwhelming, I often turn to the psalms. In them is a range of emotion, from joy to lament. The familiar words of the 23rd psalm offer comfort and remind us that God has our back, always. I used to resist this one, I thought it was trite, obvious. Recently I realized that because it’s beloved, it’s a good idea to use it, to hear in it God’s presence and love.
A Psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.
Pastor Julie Winklepleck