A hard funeral this week—one of the hardest I ever attended. A Spiderman cap graced the tiny coffin. It doesn’t take a very big box to hold a three-year-old. His dad’s auto shop was closed for the day. I heard that the employees of the only floral shop in town were in tears as they made the arrangements. The funeral home gave the parents a throw with a picture of little Joseph on it in his Spidey hat. An uncle threw his arms around the throw as if he could still embrace the child it represented.
Jesus! the name high over all,
in hell, or earth, or sky;
Angels and men before it fall,
and devils fear and fly.
Jesus! the name to sinners dear,
the name to sinners given;
It scatters all their guilty fear,
it turns their hell to heaven.
I’m considering writing a new book: The Gospel According to George. This would be a short book aimed at music lovers from non-Christian or post-Christian cultures who enjoy Handel’s oratorio The Messiah, but have no idea what it is about.
“Comfort ye. Comfort ye my people,” Handel begins, quoting Isaiah chapter 40. But why do the people need comfort? Why is the cry of one in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” such good news?
Jeanette Windle’s books just keep getting better. I reviewed her Afghanistan series in the past. Her latest, Congo Dawn, is being released this week. It's set in the former Belgian Congo, Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Whether that darkness is local or colonial, Conrad leaves in doubt, and Windle picks up this theme in a thriller that will keep you up at night turning pages. The author knows Africa from the relief organizations and schools where my kids studied to the stamping of pestles and the singing of the locals. She shows African believers putting us Westerners to shame with their faith in the midst of a horrific situation. The book may be fiction, but the situation of brutal warlords and corrupt corporations grabbing what they can get at the expense of ordinary people is all too real.
This is not the first time that tragedy struck at Christmas. Two thousand years ago a psychopath who killed his wife and three sons, heard that his royal position might be in danger from a peasant baby. He wasn’t a pagan; he consulted Bible scholars to find out where this king was. When the foreigners he tried to dupe into spying for him didn’t return, he had no way of knowing which child. So he killed them all—every boy baby two years old and under in the whole village of Bethlehem. It wasn’t a large village. We don’t know how many children died that day.
The last couple blogs have been pre-scheduled. You aren’t supposed to announce on the Internet that you are away from home, your husband off in Africa and your house standing empty waiting to be cleaned out by some unscrupulous reader. But I was in COLORADO for my nephew’s wedding. (CONGRATULATIONS STUART AND EMILY!!!)
The first DVD my husband and I ever bought was The Lord of the Rings extended version, boxed set. I listen to the audio-book at least once a year (usually starting with The Hobbit and moving on through the trilogy). I have the soundtrack music to all three films on my ipod. The other day at the ice rink “Gollum’s Song” from the ending of the second movie, The Two Towers, came on. You may remember that Andy Serkis, the actor who voiced Gollum, won awards for his role that became far more than a voice-over of a computer-generated character.
In a grove at the bottom of the hill at the end of the subdivision where my daughter lives, there is a cemetery. I don’t know how many people even know it’s there. The way is overgrown with weeds (and full of ticks.) My daughter’s neighbor discovered it when her dog got away from her on a walk. The names on some of the gravestones match the name of the street where the subdivision starts. Was that the family who once owned this land?
The dates are mostly in the 1830s to 50s. The nearby town of Clarksville, Tennessee, founded in the 1780s, was already a thriving community on the Cumberland River with shops and schools. Confederate president Jefferson Davis was born nearby.
Rejoice for He is risen! I will not leave you this week in the darkness of Friday afternoon. After #18 ("Beneath the Cross of Jesus" in InterVarsity's Hymns) comes #19! Thine Be the Glory, Risen, Conquering Son!
I have been working on a short story about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus on that long ago Easter afternoon, immersing myself in their grief, trying to imagine its transformation into joy as they recognized Jesus. (The lane at the left is on the campus of Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology in Kenya, but I can easily imagine my disciples walking down it.) For that reason verse two of this hymn struck me especially. Verse three makes me think of Thomas. Maybe I need to write another story.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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