Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Words at the End of a Pilgrim's Journey

Ever since I moved to Michigan nearly seven years ago, Leroy Cole has been among my dearest friends and most respected mentors. When my father died this past April, many people had kind words to say to me, but Leroy's words were among the wisest, most pastoral and and most profound.

I was saddened this week when I learned of his mother's passing at the age of 96, and further saddened that I simply lacked the capacity to share with him words as wonderful as those he had shared with me.

When I attended his mother's funeral today, I was moved by Leroy's words once more. The cover of the bulletin for the funeral included the picture above from Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, as well as the following quote from Part II of the book:
Now the day drew on that Christiana must be gone. So the road was full of people to see her take her journey. But behold all the banks beyond the river were full of horses and chariots, which were come down from above to accompany her to the city gate. So she came forth and entered the river, with a beckon of farewell to those that followed her to the riverside. The last word she was heard to say here were, I come, Lord, to be with thee and bless thee.
So her children and friends returned to their place, for that those that waited for Christiana had carried her out of their sight. So she went and called, and entered in at the gate with all the ceremonies of joy that her husband Christian had done before her.
At her departure her children wept, but Mr Great-heart and Mr Valiant played upon the well-tuned cymbal and harp for joy. So all departed to their respective places.
Leroy commented,
And so it is that Bunyan pictures the departure of Christian's wife, Christiana. She and all pilgrims have their own path and progress, but persevere in the company of fellow pilgrims. Mr. Great-heart and Mr. Valiant-for-truth are the pastors who guide and protect believers along their way to the Celestial City. Their roll is not to secure them in this world, for all they are pilgrims marching to Zion.
So Monday, as a son, I wept at my mother's crossing. As a pastor, I rejoiced at her entrance into the presence of the King.
At times like these we try to humanize death, to think and say such things as, "she is now reunited with her husband after nineteen years of absence." But Darwin in life and death was valiant for truth and he, with great joy, accompanied her to the feet of Jesus: "the Way, the Truth and the Life." Faith gives way to sight and the face of Love is viewed.
"The Lamb is all Glory in Emmanuel's Land." (Rev. 5:4-10)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Fun...Father's Day

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Congrats to Redeemer New Orleans!

Chris Wappel is a good friend of mine from my college days. A few years ago he got married and I went to New Orleans for the wedding with my brother-in-law who also was friends with us in college. While there, we were introduced to Redeemer Presbyterian Church and its pastor Ray Cannata. Both of us deeply enjoyed our time with Ray and the Sunday morning we spent worshiping at Redeemer.

I have since developed somewhat of a friendship with Ray and you may remember my previous post about him as The Man Who Ate New Orleans. In Ray's time in New Orleans, not only has he dined at every restaurant in the city, Redeemer has been a part of rebuilding hundreds of houses demolished by Hurricane Katrina. If you haven't already seen them, check out the trailers below from the documentary film featuring these efforts.

Well, this Sunday was a big day at Redeemer as they officially moved from "mission church" status to that of a "particular church." Ray was officially installed as Pastor of the congregation and Chris was ordained and installed as a ruling elder.

Congratulations to them both and to everyone at Redeemer. May God bless you all as you continue to do the hard work of bringing the gospel to bear on the Big Easy!

The Man Who Ate New Orleans Sizzle Reel HD from Michael Dunaway on Vimeo.

Monday, June 10, 2013

As the Lord Commanded

In Exodus 39 and 40 we read about the making of the priestly garments and the tabernacle being erected. In those two chapters, at least 18 times they are said to have done something "as the LORD had commanded Moses" (or some other phrase with similar meaning). Upon reading this today, a series of thoughts came across my mind:
  • Wow. It's pretty amazing how specific God was in what exactly he wanted done amongst his people, especially in terms of their worship of him. We probably ought to be very careful about our propensity to choose churches on the basis of our preferences.

  • Wouldn't it be nice if God spoke to us as he spoke to Moses, so that we might do things "as the Lord had commanded" us? 

  • About a tenth of a second later it occurred to me that of course he DOES speak to us, through the Scriptures! If I truly hungered to know and do God's will, then surely I would be ravenous in my appetite for God's word. And yet, there are times when I hunger for other things. Perhaps you are the same. Lord, forgive us of our double-mindedness and smash our idols that we might worship only you!