Sunday’s Scripture ~ Romans 1:1-7
Today my heart is heavy. Andrew and I learned today that his childhood best friend – his kindred spirit – his partner in mayhem – his beloved Josh – passed away on December 10, 2013 due to heart failure. He was 29.
Josh and Andrew were true brothers. They met as many brothers do…in a fight…and following those initial blows they were inseparable. They were family. They are family.
Both attended an arts magnet high school in our hometown. Both endured scrutiny and bullying because they were guys who loved the arts.
Andrew: vocal performance | Josh: dance
They stood up for one another. They defended the other. They held one another accountable. They had so much fun. They got into a lot of trouble. They were boys. They are brothers. And now Josh has passed on.
Josh is a decorated veteran. He served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in elite combat forces with the Marine Corps and Army. He loved his country. He loved defending freedom. Though he would not talk in these words, I believe his true love was for the least, the last, and the lost. I believe this is a love he found and fostered in his friendship and brotherhood with Andrew. Their care for one another led him to care for so many – soldiers, civilians, innocents – around the globe.
I ache for Andrew. I ache for our family. I ache for Josh’s family. When we ache it is so hard to remember, think about, and speak good news.
In one sentence – in one very long sentence – Paul shares the Good News with fledgling Christian communities in Rome – and around the world. He tells the story from beginning to end. From incarnation to resurrection to discipleship and stewardship of the Good News for our neighbors.
Paul wanted his brothers and sisters in Rome to know the whole story up front before diving into every theological detail and nuance the Roman correspondence has to offer. When he shared this statement I am sure some who heard it were overjoyed, some overwhelmed, some content, some complacent, some angry, some grieving, some dying. Though the words may have been a struggle to hear they were shared. Though the words may have been a struggle to recall they were remembered and have been remembered throughout the ages.
We remember them tonight. We remember the Good News as we acknowledge our human grief and human loss. We seek comfort in the promise that we shall be raised with Christ, that we share in his gift of eternal life, that we shall be reunited with our loved ones in resurrection.
In the days ahead we will walk with our grief. In the days ahead we will remember Josh as we remember the promise of Christ. In the days ahead we will be mindful of the example of Christ that Josh lived in his life – to care first and foremost of the least, the last, and the lost.
In doing so we will draw near to the Good News and the Good News will heal.
Prayer: “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home; swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home. If you get there before I do, coming for to carry me home; tell all my friends I’m coming too, coming for to carry me home. Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home; swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.”* Our promise in you, O God, is that we are all coming home. We thank you for this gift of Good News. Amen.
*”Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 703.