Pastor's Monthly Message....July-August..2015

Remember The Living
In my opinion, one of the most harsh orders that Jesus ever made was "Let the dead bury the dead. Matt 8:22". It may appear even more insensitive as we prepare for the God and Country celebration here at New Sweden in which we memorialize those who gave lives for our country. However, it was not out of disrespect for the dead but, rather, out of respect for the living that prompted the Savior's words. That is, respect for the simple truth of life that service rendered to the dead is of little value to them. Post mortem love, kindness shown to those who are now absent, is like the rain of September which arrives too late to save the withered crops from the drought of summer.
The love we offer to the dead- the eulogies, the wreaths, the epitaphs does little to bless their lives. We remember them - as we should- and remember them with great fondness. But how much sweeter would be their memory if we had shared those thoughts with them while they were yet alive. We very often withhold our encouragement and affection for the living, waiting for the right moment to express our love- waiting, procrastinating, making busy with our lives with the irrelevancies of life - until at last the moment is gone. The bouquets of flowers we had thought to deliver to a friend must now be delivered as a wreath; the appreciation that might have confronted the aging parent or spouse will become a funeral eulogy; the undelivered expressions of love that could have been given to those we knew must now become the epitaphs on gravestones.
Let us remember the living while there is still time. Perhaps someone in a nursing home waits for a visit that we have been putting off. We may owe someone an unpaid debt of kindness - a friend, parent, former teacher, a sister, a brother - a debt that will remain unpaid unless we act now.
Soon the loveliest and the best that we have known will be beyond our reach and buried with them will be the opportunity to bless them with our love.
Let our eulogies be written upon the fleshy chambers of living hearts. Let our wreaths be gentle words and caresses placed about the necks of those who can still appreciate their fragrance. Consider the following poem on the next page by Leigh M. Hodges.

Give Them The Flowers Now

Closed eyes can't see the white roses,
Cold hands can't hold them, you know,
Breath that is stilled cannot gather
The odors that sweet from them blow
Death, with a peace beyond dreaming,
It's children of earth doth endow;
Life is the time we can help them,
So give them the flowers now!
Give Them The Flowers Now - continued

Here are the struggles and striving,
Here are the cares and the tears;
Now is the time to be smoothing
The frowns and the furrows and fear,
What to closed eyes are kind sayings?
What to hushed heart is deep vow?
Naught can avail after parting,
So give them the flowers now!

Just a kind word or a greeting;
Just a warm grasp or a smile-
These are the flowers that will lighten
The burdens for many a mile.
After the journey is over
What is the use of them; how
Can they carry them who must be carried?
Or, give them the flowers now!

Blooms from the happy heart's garden
Plucked in the spirit of love;
Blooms that are earthly reflections
Of flowers that blossom above.
Words cannot tell what a measure
Of blessing such gifts will allow
To dwell in the lives of many,
So give them the flowers now!

Pastor Hans Lillejord