The first funeral I ever presided over was my grandmother’s. She died while I was in seminary, on my internship. Gummy–that is what we called her. She was a special soul who was just the right mixture of sweet and sass. Well, mostly she was feisty. And hilarious. My Gummy was hilarious. I was both honored and terrified to lead her funeral service–to preach at her funeral. I remember gathering with my family in the private room where I hoped to share just a few words and pray together before going to worship our Lord. I think I got three syllables out before I lost it. The tears flowed and I think we were all a little worried if I would be able to make it through the service.
Our opening hymn that morning remains one of my favorite. My Hope is Built on Nothing Less. Here is the first stanza.
My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness;
No merit of my own I claim, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
These powerful words washed over me that morning. Needless to say, my ground was pretty sandy that morning. I know you’ve been there too. Times when your footing is hard to come by and you may topple at any second. A death of a loved one. A betrayal by a close friend. The fracturing of a relationship. A broken dream. If you live, you know what it means to walk on unstable ground. Where does your hope rest?
This hymn provided the firm footing for me that day by my Gummy’s casket. Or, I should say, the hymn reminded me that I had firm footing. The inspiration for this refrain is Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 7:24-27. The one who hear the words of Jesus and lives by them is built on the rock. Our hope rests secure on this firm foundation. Jesus holds in the storm. Always.
Lessons from a Lobster
The only way a lobster can grow is by molting. Much like a snake sheds is skin, a lobster sheds its shell to grow. The danger is that a lobster that is out of its shell is incredibly vulnerable. It is about the only time that it is vulnerable. Seriously, Have you tried to crack a lobster’s shell? There is a reason that some places give you a wooden mallet to crack them open!
A freshly molted lobster has only one good option for its survival. It hides under the rock.
This is us as well. When life does its worst on you and you are exposed–go to the Rock. When you are vulnerable and your exterior is breached–go to the Rock. When the arrows of the evil one are flying at you from every direction–go to the Rock.
When the world crashes all around you–remember that your “hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Your hope is built (and hidden under) Christ the solid rock.