I wanted to take the time to post what I am referring to as Aunt Edna and Uncle Albert's Grand Ol' Texas Adventure today. I wanted to go through all the fun and all the cute photos and all the blessings and all the joy that we had there. But, as Scarlett O'Hara says, I have to think about that tomorrow.
Because today, when I think of my Texas, my heart is bursting with the joy of the time we had and my heart is breaking with grief with what I know many in my hometown are feeling this week.
I was born in the big city of Dallas and when I was nine we moved about 30 miles down the road to what was the smallest county in Texas. My little town, which when I arrived, only had a Sonic and a Dairy Queen and one stop light, has turned into a different place in many ways. We got ourselves a McDonald's my junior year in high school. Now we have hotels, a movie theater, a Target, a Starbucks or two, lots and lots of schools and lots and lots of new people. But some things are not so different there. I think perhaps, there is still a sense of small community there and a knowledge that our hearts are connected, especially the hearts of those of us who grew up in that place and watched it change so drastically. The heart of that town is the same, I think. And unfortunately, many of those hearts in my hometown are breaking today.
Just two days ago, many of my high school buddies came together, not in joyous reunion, but in crushing grief, as they laid to rest one of our own. A sister, a wife, a mother and a friend lost too soon and too suddenly. Though it had been twenty years or so since I had seen this friend, I remember her sweet smile as if it was just yesterday that we had passed each other on the way to English class or cheered our beloved Yellowjackets at the Friday pep rally. I think that's how I feel about most of my high school classmates and that's why our collective hearts are so heavy today.
There is much grieving there in my sweet hometown. There is much grieving here in my new hometown. There is struggle and pain and questions and I don't have adequate answers. My mind is full of questions for God today. So I decided to wait on posting Aunt Edna's slideshow and go down and clean out the basement storage room which I knew was going to be tedious, messy and painful. I brought my computer down with me and decided that I would spend my day in the basement listening to the fall sermon series my pastor did on Job and suffering. And in the midst of wrapping paper and Halloween decorations and my high school photo albums, I listened to the first in the series. And I needed to hear it so desperately and maybe some of you folks do as well.
Just like my basement project, grief is tedious and messy and painful. But God finds us in the basement. Among the dirt and the clutter and the cricket traps, I found the Nativity box. I found Him and through the voice of my pastor, He found me. So now, I sit here outside the mess on the floor with my laptop taking what will likely be the first of many breaks today and offer it to you. I would urge all of you who found your way here today to listen if you can. Those of us who are grieving, those of us who are helping the grieving, those of us who have been spared crushing grief thus far, but who will not escape it. It helped me today. I pray it will help you.
Pastor Chris Riedel's Sermon on Job: Number One