Yesterday afternoon, Lander Bethel presided over a memorial service for Doug Johnston, son of Glen and Christina Johnstone. It was a beautiful service down by the creek and under the trees. The cloud cover lowered the temperature, making the slight breeze cool to the touch. Lander had found a bagpiper to play that haunting, yet calming, sound as a motor cycle association lined the perimeter with American flags. Doug had been a Captain in the United States Army, and the cyclists had come to pay their respects.
I always enjoy listening to Lander talk. I say talk because he doesn’t “preach.” He has a soft voice that makes you feel like you’re sitting on the couch next him or sitting by a camp fire on a starry night. Lander chooses his words carefully; bringing home a truth that you knew in your heart but never had the words to say for yourself.
Lander began by reading from Psalm 22.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?It is a feeling many of us have when a loved one dies way too early. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus himself turned to this Pslam as he hung on the cross in agony.
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Lander then brought his message home by reminding us that it is easy to see God in a sunrise. Often we say, and hear people around us say, “look at the beauty of nature and see the hand of the creator.” How often, however, are we able to look past the suffering of our cross and see God? God is always there if we turn to see. We can turn to God in our family and friends. They are there to comfort us in our time of need.
Lander made me think: shouldn’t we also see God in our neighbor? Not just the people next door; the one’s like us. But, what about our neighbor who is poor, homeless or sick? Can we see God in our enemy, or do we let our suffering over take us? Do we trust God the way Jesus did as he hung on the cross, having the courage to say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do?”
In other words, it seems to me that it is easy to see God in the sunrise, but do we have the strength to see God in our enemy? Or more importantly do we have the strength to let our enemy see God in us? Not with the words we say, but how we treat those around us, loved ones and enemies alike.