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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Let's Say 2040

I've never really thought about what year I might die. I've often stated that I would be happy dying between my 75 and 80th years, and if so, that puts me right around 2040 for a year I might die. (Mind you, this is all speculation. I could die in 2016 or 2050, who knows?) But that's only 25 years from now, and this leads me to wonder about all kinds of things.

For example, my mother could still be alive 25 years from now. She would be a little over 100, but plenty of people of her generation will make that number. (As long as Medicare and Medicaid hold out.) My grandson would be 26, older than his mother is right now. My daughter will be the age I am as I am writing this post. Weird stuff like that.

But here's one: after the 2016 election, I'll only have to endure this process 5 more times before I die. Since we often elect incumbents, that means I really have only three more Presidents left to make fun of. I mean, the last three presidents have been pure comedic gold for preachers. President Bush was so incompetent that the jokes practically wrote themselves. President Clinton was competent, but his personal life was so much larger than reality that there was nothing off-limits for him. Jokes come easy when there are no boundaries. And President Obama? I mean, the guy is going to be known forever for health care. I saw a permanent sign on a medical clinic in Omaha the other day that said "We have Obamacare." Really? And we can't make a joke about this? Sadly, though, my days of Presidential comedy are down to three more players...and one might be Hillary Clinton. (Do not tease me.)

I saw Harold and Maude when I was 17. I have never wavered from my appreciation of Maude. Nor of Harold. Image result for harold and maude It never occurred to me that 80 years would be so difficult to get to, 35 years ago when I first saw that movie. Life is hard. Here's the story I use as to why I do not relish time beyond 2040.

When I was 47 years old, on a cold Winter's day in December in Mandan, North Dakota, our congregation celebrated the 94 birthday of our organist's father. It was 7 degrees below zero, and with the 20 mile and hour wind, the wind chill made it feel like 15 below. With the sun, it was a rather nice Sunday, all things considered. Anyhow, as I left worship that morning, Henry was under the hood of his Buick beating the battery with a wrench. (It works, trust me.) I turned to his daughter and said, "If I have to live another 47 years just so I can do that--kill me now." The guy was twice as old as me, and he was still beating car batteries to life in the frozen prairie. What--EXACTLY--is the point of living?

Everything seeks life because we are always in the process of dying. Jesus knew that. But rather than try and tell people how to LIVE, he showed us how to DIE. And in doing that he freed us to LIVE without fearing to DIE. The grace of God is not that we live (or survive some kind of tragedy in that sick, twisted, anti-Christian "there but for the grace of God..." bullshit we spout) or that we die, but rather that we live in love with all of creation, and not use a fear of death or dying as an excuse not to live in love. Whether I make it to 2040 or not, I do want to live in love...even if it kills me.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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