Advent Midweek 2, 2017

Advent 2017 — Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

A homily given by Dee Lockman to the St. James Congregation December 13, 2017

Romans 8

26        Likewise the spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

27        And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28        We know all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purposes.

31        What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us; who is against us?

32        He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?

35        Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

 

 

WHO WILL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST?

This was one of the readings I chose when my husband and I got married 6 years ago—obviously a joyful moment in my life. But my life, like each of yours, has not always been joy filled. It has been a series of twists and turns; bad times interspersed with the good; sad times, and happy times.

These verses from Romans have carried me through all the ups and downs, smoothing the way, providing constant reassurance that ALL IS WELL, because who will separate us from the love of Christ?

1984 – Kittanning, PA I was going through a divorce after 19 years of marriage.

That twist in the road brought me back here to my home area of Adams County; a totally unplanned move. I had two teenage boys who came to love it here, but at the time, they did not want to leave their schools or the only home they had known. We were leaving our church home, our church-family, and our friends.

It was a move not taken lightly by me. But with a job awaiting me here, with benefits and a living income, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, because the area I was leaving behind was (then) economically depressed with few prospects for jobs.

A dear pastor friend (and councilor to us), John Smaligo, suggested we join St. James in Gettysburg. Good advice. Here, I have made lasting and loving friends, and I have found a new church HOME.

A blessing.

I had been given good employment in Biglerville, which evolved into other good employment via members of this congregation at Mason Dixon Farms. My new employer, Dick Waybright, pulled me right into serving 20 years on the Board of Habitat for Humanity.

Another blessing.

1988,   In a new marriage to Steve Lockman, with 2 wonderful step-sons added, life was good. The step-sons visited every other weekend.  Their Mother became friends with me; the two families worked very well together. We still do when we are able to get together.

As for that twist in the road that brought me back here – well – It now felt like things had straightened out.

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26        Likewise the spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

  1. My oldest son, Scott Harptser came to the house one Sunday morning bearing the heart-wrenching word that his brother, my younger son, Jonathan, had died the night before when a pickup truck had rolled on to him.

31   What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us; who is against us???

I’m not sure I was thinking right then about whether God was for us or against us. Because as we stood inside the door with this news still raw in our ears – who comes diddy-bopping down the stairs from waking up but Jonathan’s 2 year old daughter who was spending the weekend with us. Reality took on a whole new shape.

As it turned out she would live another 4 years with us; asking about her Daddy every day.

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27        And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

In those first days, weeks and months we were suffering weakness. We were given a new life to live and yet had to combine it with the life already in progress.

The spirit interceded. Daisia came to find friendship and fun with her nearby cousins whom she saw daily. She also adopted Steve’s 2 sons as her “Brothers”. I dropped her off at her Mom’s on my way to work; – picked her up at a daycare on the way home. The arrangement worked well for everyone.

28        We know all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purposes.

Life moved on. We had jobs to go to. We had a granddaughter to help raise because her mother worked the 3-11 shift. We felt we were being called for His purposes., because it seemed to us He had landed a purpose for us in our laps.

Actually, Things were working together for good amidst the sadness and loss we felt. The path made a bit straighter.

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Eleven years later – 2005 – I came home from work one day to find my husband, who had always been upbeat (I thought), had committed suicide. I found him in a truck with the engine still running. Depression? Probably. But he gave no indication of his plan to me.

To this day, I could not tell you which death was worse, because there is no measuring stick for death.

A quote from “Ordinary Light” by Tracy K. Smith on the death of her mother helps explain how I felt.

“Death was like an indelible error no one could correct. It did not relinquish its hold on the present tense. It left a shape so deep and intricate it made no sense whatsoever to try to fill it. No, the only thing to do, I suspected, would be to move over and learn to live beside the gulf left in my mother’s wake, peering down into it at times out of need but making every effort not to topple over and fall in.”

32        He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?

There was healing to be done….for all of us. Counseling to be done. Pastor Mike met with me numerous, numerous times, and 3 very generous friends, Shirley Armstrong, Becky Brown and Norma Wood, met with me once a month for 5 years while I healed. Yes, God gave me everything else. Thanks be to God for St. James, its staff and its members.

Here we are 12 years later. Half of those years I widowed alone, ok with life. BUT, why is it that everything needs to be repaired, replaced, or fixed all the time when you’re a woman and by yourself?????   I was surviving – as long as my older son, Scott, came every week to help me fix things, and to cut wood for the outdoor wood stove. Thank God for Scott.

Early 2011 – a widowed friend of mine from the Habitat Board, Chooch Wells, asked me out to dinner. Sure – thinking we’d talk about board members, what houses Habitat was building, catching up after not seeing each other for about 8 years. Ha!! Little did I know ——- later that year we would marry. He said he wanted to put JOY back in his life. He certainly has made my life joy-filled. His family has accepted me beyond what I could have imagined. And my family thinks he’s perfect for me.

Yes I do have many blessings and much for which to be grateful. Thanks be to God.

The path made straight……………….… again.

Amen.

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