Easter Vigil 2021

Picture of Christ on the cross saying, "It Is Finished!"
It Is Finished!

Yep, today is Good Friday. It is, for human beings, the best thing that could have ever happened, but for Jesus, the Christ… It was sheer torture. One of my favorite Gerhart hymns, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth,” verse 3, gets to the point quite well.

“… / O wondrous Love, what have You done! / The Father offers up His Son, / Desiring our salvation. / O Love, how strong You are to save! / You lay the One into the grave / Who built the earth’s foundation.”

Good Friday isn’t the end of the story, either. Pretty much everyone knows that Easter Sunday is coming up pretty quickly. Yes, Easter without Good Friday is pretty meaningless. It is more than a pastoral footnote about seeds growing, caterpillars turning to butterflies, and other “springy” images, though. It is about the cost of forgiveness. Not the cost to us, it cost God more than we can begin to understand.

To help us begin to work our way toward at least appreciating what God has done and continues to do for us, earlier generations of Christians used the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter to hold Easter Vigil services. One of the best explanations of Easter and “light walk-throughs” actually came from my pastor and cantor on the “Coffee Hour” podcast at KFUO.  <– If you click that link, it will take you to the page. Scroll down a bit, and you will see the podcast called, “The Coffee Hour – Easter Vigil: From Darkness to Light.” It lasts a little bit under 30 minutes.

In case you don’t have a church nearby that has Easter Vigil services, my church is. It will start at 6:30 PM tomorrow. Zion, Tomball’s website has a link to the YouTube live-stream and bulletin download here. I’m not entirely certain what they are going to do for the opening bonfire and procession into the church, maybe Facebook live? We shall see.

 

It Is Good to Sleep!

I have been using this bed for a week. It is WONDERFUL to not have to have someone wake up to turn me twice a night, both for my sake and theirs. While it could be “placebo effect,” my feet feel slightly warmer in the morning. My respiratory system hasn’t shown much of a difference, but I’m not surprised – we will see what happens when I’m sick. I have had one small bout with sciatic pain, but it ended quickly.

Putting the night routine together is easier. Instead of being balanced and surrounded by pillows, I only put one small one to protect my tailbone. We move the gastric tube into a position that will not bother anything – especially my face. I get prepared for bed as usual otherwise. Once I sit up a little bit, so I can manage secretions, we can switch like controls.

Slowly and quietly, the bed rotates 30° to the left. 30 minutes later, it rotates 30° to the right. This keeps happening until we turn it off in the morning.

The first night, I startled when some of the turns began. I wasn’t scared or anything. It was just DIFFERENT than what I was used to. I was only awake for a few seconds each time.

Now, I sometimes wake up once or twice a night. It isn’t always connected to turning. (The ice dropping in the refrigerator is noisy, but I don’t think it’s that, either.) Anyhow, I usually fall asleep right away.

If I’m wide awake, I listen to Lutheran Talk Radio or an audiobook for a little while. I’ve been waking up early, sometimes 6 or 6:30 AM. Once again, I listen to something until someone is ready to work with me-usually around 7:30 AM or a little bit before.

More later…

Funding Came through: “Magic Bed” Is Here

I Intended To Take A Few Pictures, But My Phone Battery Was Dead

My spinal muscular atrophy comes along with several medical issues. I have lousy circulation, to the point that I’m always cold enough to claim to be part lizard. My tracheostomy, etc. further prove that I have respiratory issues.

About 5-10 years ago, I heard about a tool that I was certain would help with both the circulation and the breathing issues. It comes with the added benefit of not needing someone to turn me regularly.

Funding medical equipment is sometimes a cluster of exercises in creativity and networking, but I will go into that some other time.

For now, I’m just going to say that the bed is here. My family and I get to sleep the whole night through. The Probed Medical Freedom Bed will keep me moving all night, making small position changes like everyone else. It will keep the blood moving and keep secretions from “puddling” in my lungs.

Details to come after I use the bed tonight. 🙂

Bob Ross, J.R.R. Tolkien, and a Theodicy and Me

I just wrote a little review of FAITH IN THE SHADOW OF A PANDEMIC for my church newsletter. (The Reader’s Digest version is that this is an excellent and useful book.)

Pondering that cluster of 14 devotions reminded me of many conversations I’ve had since I was 12. I’m not talking (this time) about the folks in shopping malls who insist on telling me that “if I was REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEALLY a Christian” that God would have healed me by now.

I’m talking about people who are struggling with issues (illness, grief, racism, cruelty, hurricanes, etc.) that bother them, and they want to discuss them with someone who believes in God in spite of it all. There’s a word for that: theodicy.

Most of the time, I have learned that this is the time for me to close my mouth and open my ears. People need the freedom to wrestle with and grieve these sore places in their lives. We don’t live in some sort of cross between Utopia and Candyland. (Well… Maybe it is a little bit like Thomas More’s Utopia, which is actually kind of dark. Come to think of it, most utopian novels are rather bleak, so NEVERMIND!)

While our universe certainly has loveliness, it is also broken. We are broken and corrupted by sin. (That’s a whole different discussion, even when it leaks into what I’m saying here.)

One of my friends told me that they found great consolation in the number of times that Bob Ross (of “Joy of Painting” fame) said, “Every highlight needs its own shadow. Without it, this world we’re painting is flat and lifeless.”

I don’t know that it’s exactly SCRIPTURAL, but it feels useful to me. It also reminds me of one of my favorite J.R.R. Tolkien quotes:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

My pastor and his oldest son had a thorough discussion about that quote. Apparently, it was rather far-ranging. I would’ve loved to eavesdrop!

I forgot where I was going with all of this.

Lisa Reads: Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors

Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors

by Sarah Stodola
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23740509-process
The “Reader’s Digest version” of this book review is that I like it. I spent a couple of weeks listening to it as I went to sleep. (Did you know that Amazon Echo can read Kindle books aloud? It can’t read EVERYTHING, and sometimes the pronunciation is a little bit strange, but it is most definitely understandable.)
Anyhow, Sarah Stodola wrote mini-biographies of about 20 writers. The list included:
Franz Kafka
Toni Morrison
David Foster Wallace
Richard Price
Edith Wharton
George Orwell
Virginia Woolf
Vladimir Nabakov
Salman Rushdie
Joan Didion
Jack Kerouac
Ernest Hemingway
James Joyce
Junot Diaz
F Scott Fitzgerald
Philip Roth
Margaret Atwood
and Zadie Smith
Some of these authors I thoroughly enjoy. It was a treat to learn about them and relearn what I forgot. Some of the authors were the kind that made me promise myself to never read again, but learning about their process made me think that I should possibly, maybe consider rethinking that.
The most important tidbits were in the sections detailing the processes that each author took to create a book. Some approaches were detailed and analytical. Some were chaotic and very much “off-the-cuff.” Some produced massive amounts of words in spurts, while James Joyce is reported to have said that he accomplished writing seven words, but wasn’t certain what order to put them in.
After listening to this book I realized that the process isn’t the point. I just need to get the words WRITTEN. I am a writer, not just a talker-abouter or ponderer. Once the words are written, I can figure out how to manage the rest: editing, rewriting, handing it to beta-readers, etc.

 

Lisa Reads: The Gift and the Defender

The Gift and the Defender (Lumen Legends Book 1) by Tyrel Bramwell
Book cover for The Gift and the Defender (Lumen Legends Book 1) by Tyrel Bramwell

It has been a while since I have done this. I’ve been reading. This is the year of the coronavirus, many people made dents in their “to-read” pile. Granted, sometimes it was for work or school, but not in my case.

This is plain old JUST FOR FUN reading. I have finally gotten to one of the books that was toward the bottom of the pile. I have been intending to read it for quite a while, I just hadn’t.

This book, The Gift and the Defender is by Pastor Tyrell Bramwell. Some of the other reviewers have commented on the deep allegory hidden within the parallel stories. Maybe I need to reread it, but I didn’t see that. I saw 1 story taking place in roughly modern-times New York City. There is also a story set in a fantasy kingdom, with an obvious battle between good and evil.

I thought I was reading a novel that is sort of a bidirectional novel like Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates. I was wrong. The stories do eventually link together, and the tie between them surprised me. It was well done, in spite of my original impression that this was “too simplistic” to be any good. I should’ve noticed some of the links to Latin and other elements.