Death Sucks

Dr. Jeff Gibbs, professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is famous for a phrase (and I might be paraphrasing here a bit), but it essentially is, “Death Sucks.” We should never minimize the evil that is death by trivializing it and making it seem like a joyous event. Yes, the death of one suffering means an end to their suffering. However, it is still evil. Death is the culmination if sin in this world. There is nothing glorious or happy about that.

I write this after a long five months. Five months ago my grandfather passed away. He was followed shortly by two more friends from my home congregation. More funerals in the fall at my home church. Before Christmas we found out a close cousin of ours (an older man) died. What is sad about this is that we didn’t find out about it until almost a month after his death. From the last December 29, 2008 to January 8, 2009 my home congregation had six deaths including the death of an infant. Last night I got a phone call saying that my grandfather’s younger brother, our Uncle Leroy died suddenly while driving home from eating dinner. This happened five months to the day after my grandfather’s death. That leaves my grandma and one in-law left out of that generation.

Death Sucks. 

However, in all of this, in all the evil and despair I have  a hymn in my mind thanks to Pr. Weedon and a post on his blog (and the subsequent comments):

Then why should men on earth be so sad, Since our Redeemer made us glad, Then why should men on earth be so sad, Since our Redeemer made us glad, When from our sin He set us free, All for to gain our liberty?
“On Christmas Night All Christians Sing” (LSB 377)

Death sucks. However, Christians have comfort in the knowledge that Christ, who came to earth, born of the Virgin Mary, to be crucified for our transgressions, will again come to judge both the living and the dead. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

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Funeral Post…

My grandfather, Elvis “Harvey” McBride, passed away on Monday, August 11, at St. Mary’s Health Center in Jefferson City with his daughter (my mom) at his side.

We were spared having to make some awful decisions about further care (essentially hospice). His doctors and nurses were wonderful. My pastor provided wonderful pastoral care for both my grandfather and for my family.

The visitation was on Wednesday and the funeral was on Thursday. This was a very emotional time for me and for my mom (since we are both “lonely only’s”). We heard a wonderful Christ-centered, Cross-focused message from my pastor at the funeral. Grandpa’s pallbearers were five of his great-nephews and my best friend since preschool who golfed with grandpa and me (when Elliott visited grandpa in the hospital… grandpa told him to keep hitting it up the middle).

The graveside service was especially emotional. It was rainy pretty hard and we had military honors. Two young sailors folded the flag and gave it to my grandma. Then came taps and the gun-salute.

The funeral dinner hosted by the women’s groups from St. Paul’s was as “fun” as it could be on a really rough day. We enjoyed seeing family and friends, telling stories about grandpa, and rejoicing in the hope that we through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Night number whenever

In my previous post I said that my grandpa was doing 100% better. He slipped some on Monday. He was diagnosed with a very serious blood infection on Monday and they also said he seems to have had a series of mini-strokes (they aren’t really a worry for us right now). He is still battling pneomonia. On Monday he also pulled out his feeding tube and got pretty fiesty with a nurse over putting it back in. Currently he’s without a tube. Tomorrow they may put in a “peg tube” in his side. They are also going to reevaluate his condition to determine if they can do surgery on a sore that is probably causing the blood infection. That surgery was supposed to happen today , but he was too unstable this morning.

He hasn’t been alone since he came in last week. Mom and I have been here together each night since Sunday. They got us a room down the hall a couple of nights ago which has been a true godsend. This will be my fifth night at the hospital since last week.

Please continue to keep my grandfather Elvis (or Harvey) in your prayers in this difficult time.

Update on Grandpa and the family

Grandpa is doing well…. 100% better than my previous post. He is out of ICU, breathing better, blood pressure has been stabalized and is talking. He got pretty fiesty last night and pulled out his feeding tube and then stood up beside the bed. Much better today. The move wore him out so he rested most of the evening. I’m pulling another night shift just to have somebody close by and watch out for him (my family lives about 40 minutes from the hospital).

Mom is home now after being in Alexandria, Virginia for her high school class reunion. She actually missed it because of the health crisis. My mom rocks… she drove 998 miles on Friday straight through with only stops for gas, bathroom breaks, and soda. 15 1/2 hours = average speed of 64.5 miles per hour roughly. She’s a trooper.

Lisa was also here with me this weekend so last night Lisa (my wife if you haven’t figured it out), my mom, and I went to a wedding. One of my cousins married a young lady from my church. We got to see lots of family, lots of friends, and some of my old teachers. It was a blast all around. My pastor did the ceremony and gave a great sermon. It is so nice to hear Jesus mentioned not simply as an example, but as the Savior of the world. I also have to say my pastor is a great guy because he came twice in two days to check on my grandpa. My grandpa doesn’t come to church much at all and doesn’t consider himself religious, but he loves my pastor. They always visit in the Chinese restaurant in town and he loves talking to Pastor and pastor’s wife. Pastor always gives him the Gospel. When pastor walked in the room on Thursday night when things were looking grim he prayed one of the most beautiful prayers I’ve heard pointing my grandfather to the cross and to what Jesus did for him.

Today I preached (sermon number 4) at my home church. I preached on the Gospel text (Feeding of the 5,000). I had been prepping for this one for a while since it was somewhat of a special occasion. A family at my home church has an endowment fund set up to support seminarians. I’ve been close with the family for just about my whole life. The endowment is named after a woman named Elora. I was confirmed with her autistic grandson and went to high school with her granddaughter. Today was a family reunion for them of sorts and a dinner was held in my honor at their house. I was invited to preach because of this. I have to admit… it was fun! My pastor even commented that I must have been reading Nagel. I also taught Bible story on John 20. This was done on the fly (since I just finished a John course at the sem) and I haven’t had time to prep with grandpa being in the hospital. I may post the sermon… I may not.

Well, I’m off to bed. I’ll keep posting updates. Thanks for your continued prayers.

Prayers for Grandpa

I’m sitting in the hospital (St. Mary’s-Jefferson City, MO) with my grandfather right now. I got in at about 10:30 p.m. last evening… and spent the night.

Over 13 years ago he had a single bypass, heart valve replacement, pacemaker implanted, and an internal defibrillator implanted. For the next 12 years he had no problems. A little over a year ago he had a bought with pneumonia and hasn’t been the same since. He’s been hospitalized at least four times this year alone. He was brought in by ambulance two nights ago when my grandma couldn’t get him out of his chair. He went into respiratory arrest last night and I rushed to Jeff City from St. Louis (I was coming this afternoon anyway to see grandpa and preach at my home church). My mom is currently driving from Washington, D.C. where she was at for her class reunion. The problems are: his kidney’s nearly quick working because of the lasix they gave him (last month) for pneumonia, also his blood pressure was down dramatically

This is especially difficult for me since I was raised by my mom, my grandma, and my grandpa. My father has never been in the picture (left when I was less than a year old) so my grandpa has been and still is my father. He taught me how to golf and still gives me tips. He taught me how to shoot. He taught me so many things about being a good man and being kind, gracious, and loving.

I ask for your prayers for him (his name is Elvis) and for my family.

Almighty God and gracious Father, in Your mercy look on those whose increasing years bring them weakness, anxiety, distress, or loneliness. Grant that they may always know care and respect, concern and understanding. Grant them willing hearts to accept help and, as their strength wanes, increase their faith with the constant assurance of Your love through Jesus Christ, their Savior. Amen.

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need, look with favor upon your servant Elvis. Assure him of Your mercy, deliver him from the temptations of the evil one, and give him patience and comfort in his illness. If it please You, restore him/her/them to health, or give him grace to accept this tribulation with courage and hope; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.