Author Topic: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections  (Read 38483 times)

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #105 on: May 11, 2020, 10:44:33 AM »
Pastor Bohler writes:
Do not confuse the gifts with the Giver.  He is the One who gives joy, not them.  Otherwise, you will never truly have it -- there's always more trips to be taken, more time with friends to anticipate, more shows and entertainment to see.  And the devil will always remind you of that. 
I comment:
Thank you, Pastor Bohler, but the joy is hard to see and experience unless it exists in some tangible way. I am reminded of an old Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy is shivering in the cold. Linus walks by and says “be of good cheer.” The last frame of the strip shows snoopy, still shivering.
I am somewhat repelled by your suggestion that it is the devil who reminds me of the human joys of life.

Maybe it's selfish to crave listening to and making live music, dining out, live theater, art galleries, and trips to interesting places far from home...
 
But there are more things to do. Haven't been to the Greek Islands yet. I would like to see Paris or Rome again and have some filet de perche with friends on the shore of Lake Geneva.

You live in a beautiful facility that brings you shrimp cocktails and ice cream. You have Beloved Spouse with you. You can walk with her by the lake. Yes, you have your health. You are baptized!

You and Beloved Spouse count your many blessings, blessings that so many in this country much less the world could only dream of. But, for you, it's not enough. You want fancy travel and fancier food. All while people are dying. Alone. Separated from family. Some even separated from their spouse.

Who do you think is whispering to you? Luke 12:13-21

The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life, goods,
Fame, child and wife,
Let these all be gone,
They yet have nothing won;
The kingdom ours remaineth.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 11:12:09 AM by Pr. Don Kirchner »
Don Kirchner

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Eileen Smith

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #106 on: May 11, 2020, 11:22:30 AM »
I wonder if we are all speaking the same language in our discussion on joy.  I think of joy and/or happiness as something that touches us in this world.  It's not a bad thing - it comes from God's hand.  But it is fleeting. A trip to a restaurant  or a special trip creates memories that may remain but even these memories dull over time and do not give us long-term joy. 

For God's people I think a better term is contentment.  Are we content with what God has given us?   Contentment is a gift of the Holy Spirit that comes to us in baptism.  It is the peace that we cannot understand and yet we knowingly possess it.

I do not disregard the toll that isolation is taking on people across our country and this world.   I often feel it myself.  By the third month of this year we were in lock down and just preceding that lockdown my husband died.  I am very blessed in that I have family, a church family, my husband's church family, and friends who have been wonderful to me.  Yet there are difficult days - days that seem very long and lonely.  But I am grateful to God that even on my more difficult days I still feel content.  Happiness or joyfulness is not the same as contentment.  I may be very sad and yet I feel content with the life God has given me, the gifts he has shared with me.   Contentment allows that "I wish" is eased out of our vocabulary because we already have.

 

Rob Morris

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #107 on: May 11, 2020, 11:47:12 AM »
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

Pilgrim

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #108 on: May 11, 2020, 11:56:55 AM »
I once heard that "joy" and "happiness" are Bibilically distinct. "Happiness" was defined as "right circumstances", if I want to play golf and it's raining, I'm not happy! By contrast, "joy" is "right relationship". From our Lord's perspective, this is established and eternal in our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ. It is sheer gift. However, the living out of that "joy" in our broken world, our relationship with others and with our world...well that is far more difficult, as Charles has eloquently said. This event has separated (root concept of sin) us from one another. Yes, Pastor Bohler, God's promise is sure. But in the warp and woof of a fallen world, the "joy" we once shared in community (church, world and beyond) is deeply and profoundly challenged. We can "know" it is present but because we are not experiencing even remotely fullness we once took for granted, our human nature is feeling the pain of such loss. Not unlike the ongoing emptiness in my life since the death of my wife. I cannot "fix" that, I can rejoice in the promised resurrection, but the daily reality of emptiness and loss is still a part of my ongoing earthly journey. FWIW.

Pr. B.A. "Tim" Christ, STS (retired)
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Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #109 on: May 11, 2020, 12:06:36 PM »
Thanks for your pastoral ministry, Rob and for referencing Psalm 88.  The phases and stages of this forced enclosure certainly do a wrap-around on the spirit.  Sometimes there seems to be light, most of the time not very much.  Our lives are often now uneven and patchy.  If we're drawn to "joy comes in the morning" it often seems as though we're stuck in the middle of the night, when weeping comes.

The new normal is checking out random online articles - why?  But there they are.  Here's one:  https://getpocket.com/explore/item/chills-and-thrills-why-some-people-love-music-and-others-don-t?utm_source=pocket-newtab.  What we want, the article posits, is  “eudaimonic well-being”; in other words, enhanced engagement and purpose in life."  Yet there are times when the complexity of music is not just around joy, but difficult themes and chords.  Then music is "anhedonic," complex because we're complex.  It seemed like a good lesson for me, a keyboard dude, to hear, although the verbiage was like entering a thicket.

Anyway, here's to your eudaimonic well-being.

Dave Benke


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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #110 on: May 11, 2020, 12:07:31 PM »
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there. 

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #111 on: May 11, 2020, 12:11:15 PM »
Pastor Kirchner:
You and Beloved Spouse count your many blessings, blessings that so many in this country much less the world could only dream of. But, for you, it's not enough. You want fancy travel and fancier food. All while people are dying. Alone. Separated from family. Some even separated from their spouse.
Me:
Now you sound like one of those guilt-inducing liberals trying to make everyone feel guilty because they have things which others do not have. I make no apologies for what I have or for what I have done because I have obtained and done these things the way you conservatives say they should be obtained - I worked for them. And so did my wife. And they are the ways God has chosen to bless my life. I also share what I have received with others. You think I don't know people are dying and alone? I have seen them. In New Jersey, in New York, in refugee camps in Africa, along our southern border, among refugees resettled in our country.

You seem to have missed the point entirely and didn't relate at all to the Lukan parable.

No one begrudges you for what you have. As I've mentioned, my parents live in a similar facility in Mendota Heights with all the same amenities. They worked hard for it, as did you and your spouse..

But it's not enough for you. You want more and whine because you can't have it right now. IOW, that dog won't hunt.

Perhaps it would help for you to go back and re-read Ms. Smith's post, her heartbreak and yet in Whom she puts her hope, trust, and contentment.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it’s not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #112 on: May 11, 2020, 01:17:03 PM »
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there.

"We don't stay there" for how long?  The length of time it takes to read a psalm?  A day?  A week? 

This is a complex situation right now.  My folks at church are really anxious, really cooped up, and in that process remembering all kinds of other experiences from their lives.  Certainly there are mountaintoppers, but what I find more prevalent is that other griefs and sorrows are cropping up as they explain their ennui, tiredness, and emotional/spiritual journey.  Long conversations, reminiscences, unburdenings.

It's one thing to say "Buck up."  It's another to say "Jesus is your anchor."  The latter is always true, and both could be helpful.  But in a thread about reflection in quarantine, I think the task is more to listen, to accompany.

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #113 on: May 11, 2020, 01:28:20 PM »
I once heard that "joy" and "happiness" are Bibilically distinct. "Happiness" was defined as "right circumstances", if I want to play golf and it's raining, I'm not happy! By contrast, "joy" is "right relationship". From our Lord's perspective, this is established and eternal in our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ. It is sheer gift. However, the living out of that "joy" in our broken world, our relationship with others and with our world...well that is far more difficult, as Charles has eloquently said. This event has separated (root concept of sin) us from one another. Yes, Pastor Bohler, God's promise is sure. But in the warp and woof of a fallen world, the "joy" we once shared in community (church, world and beyond) is deeply and profoundly challenged. We can "know" it is present but because we are not experiencing even remotely fullness we once took for granted, our human nature is feeling the pain of such loss. Not unlike the ongoing emptiness in my life since the death of my wife. I cannot "fix" that, I can rejoice in the promised resurrection, but the daily reality of emptiness and loss is still a part of my ongoing earthly journey. FWIW.

Pr. B.A. "Tim" Christ, STS (retired)


It is also Jesus' promise that we are to carry our own crosses daily. That is not a happy experience. Even Jesus expressed his desire that it be removed from him. I'm afraid that those who want to follow Jesus only for the blessed joy, peace, freedom, and happiness, are likely to be disappointed. They are the "cheap grace" people. They want Easter without Good Friday. They want forgiveness without repentance. They want victory without entering the battle. They want to follow Jesus into Paradise, but not to the crucifixion.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #114 on: May 11, 2020, 01:45:24 PM »
Well, it did freeze here last night!   ;D
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it’s not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Dave Likeness

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #115 on: May 11, 2020, 02:43:34 PM »
HAPPINESS....is dependent on a person's OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES.
You are happy when you eat out at a good restaurant and the food is delicious.
You are happy when you get a job promotion  and a nice raise in paycheck.
You are unhappy when are confined to your home due to coronavirus.
You are unhappy when you lose your energy &  strength in the aging process.

JOY..............is dependent on a person's INWARD RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
This relationship is a joyful one due to your close relationship with God and
is independent of your outward circumstances. The focus is on God's steadfast
love for you and his faithful promises to you.  His gift of faith to you is nourished
by His Word & Sacraments.  With a repentant heart you receive the forgiveness
of sins and and the joy of salvation.  Heaven is a free gift to all who believe
in Him.


Rob Morris

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #116 on: May 11, 2020, 03:21:36 PM »
As long as we don't stay there.
Agreed. BUT... the timing is His, not ours. And to cry out, “How long, O Lord?” has more than a little Biblical precedent.

Sorrow lasts for the night and joy comes with the morning. We don’t get to pick which it is right now.

But the day is coming when Christ Himself will be our light. And so we groan with longing for what was and what shall be, but is not right now.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #117 on: May 11, 2020, 03:27:11 PM »
The terrible sonnets of G.M. Hopkins come to mind in this discussion of joy. In one poem, called Thou Art Indeed Just, the poet asks of God:

    Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me?


He concludes with the seemingly selfish but also very poignant and desperate (with my emphasis added)

Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #118 on: May 11, 2020, 03:40:48 PM »
I truly believe that our theology has to have room for Psalm 88. And for the God who chose to include it in scripture. We would all do well to reread that Psalm, and meditate particularly on how it ends. A true theology of the cross does not put a smiley face Band-Aid on an open wound.

We weep with those who weep.

Pastor Austin, may God grant you a peace that passes understanding, and the grace and faith to know that even the hidden God is still God and is still good.
 
Knowing that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Psalm 88-like honesty that says, “This sucks”. We who know what the creation originally was and what the future shall be are all the freer to lament the shortcomings of our present reality. Like all creation, we groan.

As long as we don't stay there.

"We don't stay there" for how long?  The length of time it takes to read a psalm?  A day?  A week? 

This is a complex situation right now.  My folks at church are really anxious, really cooped up, and in that process remembering all kinds of other experiences from their lives.  Certainly there are mountaintoppers, but what I find more prevalent is that other griefs and sorrows are cropping up as they explain their ennui, tiredness, and emotional/spiritual journey.  Long conversations, reminiscences, unburdenings.

It's one thing to say "Buck up."  It's another to say "Jesus is your anchor."  The latter is always true, and both could be helpful.  But in a thread about reflection in quarantine, I think the task is more to listen, to accompany.

Dave Benke

Maybe my training was different than yours, but I was taught that when a person (especially a Christian) is in pain, we are to point him to Christ.  Not just to listen in silence.  Not to let him stew in despair or (worse) self-pity.  Yeah, this life sometimes does hurt but this life is not where we are to put our focus.  In fact, God uses the pain and suffering of this life for that very purpose.  And so, like St. Paul, we CAN be thankful in all things -- even suffering. In short, I am surprised that on a Christian website, I am questioned for directing a hurting soul to Christ rather than simply letting him vent and curse.

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #119 on: May 11, 2020, 04:46:35 PM »
"If you are willing to suffer, very well, then the treasure and consolation which is promised and given to you is so great that you ought to suffer willingly and joyfully because Christ and his suffering is being bestowed upon you and made your own. And if you can believe this, then in time of great fear and trouble you will be able to say: Even though I suffer long, very well then, what is that compared with that great treasure which my God has given to me, that I shall live eternally with him? ...

When one knows this it is the more easy and bearable, and one can comfort oneself by saying: Very well, if I want to be a Christian, I must also wear the colors of the court; the dear Christ issues no others in his court; suffering there must be...

So in our suffering we should so act that we give our greatest attention to the promise, in order that our cross and affliction may be turned to good, to something which we could never have asked or thought. And this is precisely the thing which makes a difference between the Christian’s suffering and afflictions and those of all other men. For other people also have their afflictions, cross, and misfortune, just as they also have their times when they can sit in the rose garden and employ their good fortune and their goods as they please. But when they run into affliction and suffering, they have nothing to comfort them, for they do not have the mighty promises and the confidence in God which Christians have. Therefore they cannot comfort themselves with the assurance that God will help them to bear the affliction, much less can they count on it that he will turn their affliction and suffering to good...

Since we know then that it is God’s good pleasure that we should suffer, and that God’s glory is manifested in our suffering, better than in any other way, and since we are the kind of people who cannot hold on to the Word and our faith without suffering, and moreover since we have the noble, previous promise that the cross which God sends to us is not a bad thing, but rather an utterly precious and noble holy thing, why should we not be bold to suffer? As for those who will not suffer, let them go and be cavaliers; we preach this only to the devout who want to be Christians, the others wouldn’t carry it out anyhow. After all, we have so many assurances and promises that he will not allow us to stick in our suffering but will help us out of it, even though all men should doubt it. Therefore, even though it hurts, so be it, you have to go through some suffering anyhow; things cannot always go smoothly. It is just as well, nay, a thousand times better, to have suffered for the sake of Christ, who promised us comfort and help in suffering, than to suffer and despair and perish without comfort and help for the sake of the devil.

This, you see, is the way we teach concerning suffering..."

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s Works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, p. 199, 201, 208). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 04:48:32 PM by Pr. Don Kirchner »
Don Kirchner

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