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Lenten Devotions: "We Are Changed"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

'[ V ] Diego Velazquez - Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus' photo (c) 2011, Playing Futures:  Applied Nomadology - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

April 2, 2014

“We are joy, we are broken pieces
Upon a spinning, changing world we are borne
But for the love that will not release us
Our Rock of ages and our carry home
And we’ll sing it to the hills and the valleys
From every land ‘cross every sea
We will sing it when our hearts are breaking

And rejoice in the song of victory.”

Lyrics from "We Are Changed," by Peter Mayer

We have a saying at church: “deaths come in threes.” Perhaps you have expressed those sentiments or experienced that reality as well. Recently, our congregation has gone through a time where we have felt that reality to be more than doubled, and almost tripled, in recent weeks. In other words, we have been working with individuals and families who have had a loved one die. The words we proclaimed on Ash Wednesday, just four weeks ago,  are ringing in our ears: “you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Just yesterday, I stood with a dear family in the ICU, and we commended their loved one to God. I read the words of Simeon who sang, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2).

I shared that with them on my way into the hospital I sat for a moment and looked up at the mountains. That view led me to read for them these words of Psalm 121:

"I lift up my eyes to the hills —
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore."

I spoke directly to their loved one in the bed, not sure if she could hear me or understand me or not (but I always assume they can), and said, “this is a time of going out and coming in--there is a very fine line here, but you are surrounded by a circle of love.” We prayed the Lord’s Prayer and then each person--a husband, two daughters,  and a sister plus myself--all said something that we loved or admired about the person.

She died less than four hours later.

Peter sings, “We will sing it when our hearts are breaking
/And rejoice in the song of victory.”

I find myself in that space today. My heart is broken, but I am also confident and certain of the final victory.

The painting at the top of the page is in the National Gallery in Dublin. It was painted by Diego Velazquez. It is simply titled, “The Maid at the Supper at Emmaus.”

There is something going on with her. She is being changed. Through a tiny window one sees Jesus and a guest at dinner.

I like it. We don’t always get to see the whole picture but we receive hints, reminders, and glimpses along the way.

“We are joy, we are broken pieces
Upon a spinning, changing world we are borne
But for the love that will not release us
Our Rock of ages and our carry home."



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