Thoughts for the Eve of All Saints

Over the years I’ve enjoyed writing for the Upper Room Disciplines.  Our family thinks this is the best devotional resource.  The devotions follow the texts of the Ecumenical Lectionary and are great preparation for hearing those texts preached in church on Sunday.  I am the writer for this week and have enjoyed the responses I’ve received from readers.  Here is my meditation for All Saints Eve:

Revelation 7:9-17 (Eve of All Saints)

“Halloween,” the psychologist explained, “is a creative way of dealing with our deepest fears by putting on a scary mask, a costume, and making fun of our fear that something horrible lurks in the dark.”

If that’s true, Halloween is a sad trivialization of the church’s All Saints Eve, a pitiful attempt to lay aside our deepest fears merely by mocking them.

“My mother attempted to reassure me, when I would wake terrified of the night, ‘Honey, there’s nothing to fear in the dark,’” recalled a friend.  “After I lost my job, endured my daughter’s terrible illness, and my husband’s infidelity, I now know — Mom was wrong.”

Christians do not deny the darkness.  We admit the reality of evil and pain even in this often beautiful world.  We are able to be truthful about the forces that lurk because we have been let in on the last act of the play, the last chapter of the story, the outcome of the battle.

When Revelation 7 lifts the curtain on our ending, we catch a vision of the world when God at last gets what God has always wanted.  In the end, when all is said and done, when the forces that cause us sometimes to suffer and weep are defeated, the once crucified Lamb shall reign “at the center of the throne.”  Every fear defeated, every tear wiped away, not because of our creative denial of the darkness but rather because of the victory of the Lamb.

We don’t have to don a happy face mask and make fun of our fears.  We have a story about where this wonderful, sometimes terrifying life is headed.  At the end there is not fearful oblivion, evil’s triumph, eternal tears.  In the end, God.

Let tomorrow’s All Saints good news be your comfort today and into eternity.

Lord Jesus, knowing that you not only love us but also will one day reign for us keeps us going today.  Amen.

Review of Who Lynched Willie Earle?

A Review of Who Lynched Willie Earle?

Phil Aud

This is a small book, only 132 pages long, but as I read it I knew I was holding something weighty. Who Lynched Willie Earle? is, like the sermon from which the title was taken, a bold book. Will Willimon is a Duke professor and a retired bishop of the North Alabama conference of the United Methodist Church. He’s also a white southerner. The prelude to the book begins with Willimon recalling a defining moment he had as a college aged student seeking advice regarding his academic future. He stood in Dr. Jones’s office asking for help with his academic future when he first learned about the lynching of a young man named Willie Earle. This lynching, he came to understand, took place in his own community. Willimon writes, “Thus began my life with the dead: Willie Earle, who was lynched; Hawley Lynn, the Pickens preacher who spoke up; the Greenvillians who murdered him; the Greenvillians who acquitted the killers; and those who tried to forget–until God made me a preacher.” Continue reading