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Rejoice the Lord is near!

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Phil. 4:9

I remember turning onto the cemetery road. Both sides of the small lane were lined with young people as we turned onto the small lane that would lead this solemn procession to the final resting place of my cousin. 

Students from high school and college. Hundreds of them had come to honor, to celebrate my cousins life. It was an unexpected expression of love. 

The sun was bright the faces were gloomy. In her early twenty’s, after having struggled with cystic fibrosis she had found her rest in the Lord. The minister dressed in robes stood solemnly waiting for the hearse. In silence we walked towards the plot.

Her casket was already there, but you could not see it. It was covered with flowers. All that was seen was this mound of flowers. Vibrant and beautiful. Everyone held their breath, you could feel the presence of the Lord

There was weeping and sniffles. And then the minster spoke softly and yet with tremendous strength….

“Rejoice and again I say rejoice….. The Lord is near.” 

I looked at her parents, pain and sorrow lined their faces. In that moment of tragedy, of sorrow, and of mourning there was this deep sense that we were not walking through this alone. We were standing in what the Celt’s call a “thin” place. A space where this world and the other are nearly one. 

There in our tragedy was a sense of triumph. I still have trouble processing it, but I know that in our human experience, in the midst of things to difficult to understand we are not alone. 

I don’t remember much else 

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

(Phil. 4:8-9)

How we think about things is so important to our ability to live through the trials and troubles of our lives. Even in the worst of situations there is something to give praise for….. my cousins parents were not alone, we were not alone. 

As we enter into Lent we must remember that Christ was walking towards his own death. It is obvious to any casual reader of the scriptures that He did not dwell on his death, but rather his resurrection. 

“Keep on doing the things ….” Keep on! Never stop living. Never stop loving! Jesus never stopped. When they beat him, when they put that crown on his head, when the drove the nails into his body, he Keep on doing the things…. “Father forgive them.”

“Rejoice and again I say rejoice…. The Lord is near.”