Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

I walked into the church basement Monday morning, and I smelled the lilacs. The tiny blooms were decorating the tables for a dear friend's funeral dinner, stuffed into unlikely vases made from plastic K-State stadium cups.

That "purple pride" was just one common thread in our lives. So was farming and family and church and the Kansas City Chiefs. The list is long and the feelings are deep.
I looked at those intricate blossoms and marveled at the big fragrance from such tiny flowers. As I busied myself making tea and coffee, a Bible verse kept tickling my memory, but I wasn't coming up with it.

Yesterday, after I'd packed away two baskets of belongings I'd toted to the church for the dinner, I looked it up:
Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance
rising up to God.
2 Corinthians 2:15

All morning long on funeral day, people came to the church basement to leave pans of cheesy potatoes and to drop off plastic-wrap-covered salads. When I'd asked, not one person said, "No, I can't help." In fact, more food arrived than I knew was coming.  Filling the refrigerators was like a giant jigsaw puzzle, squeezing another salad in a bit of empty space.
Later, the fragrance of ham and potatoes displaced the delicate aroma from the lilacs. But through it all, I kept thinking about our lives as a "fragrance rising up to God."

Each little floret that makes up a lilac stem is beautiful individually. The intricate detail on each petal is kind of like a human fingerprint, different, yet similar.
A single lilac floret is beautiful, but alone, it can't make the aroma that permeates the room. We, as individuals, can be beautiful and strong and accomplish a great deal. But how much more can we do when we come together? It was Exhibit A at the funeral and dinner on Monday. Everyone contributing in big and small ways came together to honor a friend and his family with a "Christ-like fragrance."

Just counting quickly, I came up with 41 people (not counting immediate family) who came together to help celebrate a special life in behind-the-scenes work for the funeral, burial and dinner. Many, many others came to celebrate his life at the memorial service. Many gave memorial contributions or offered a tribute of flowers.
Church of the Resurrection UMC Pastor Adam Hamilton wrote a book called The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus. Among the Scripture readings is Mark 2: 1-12.

It's a familiar story told over and over again as children gather for Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. Jesus is preaching at Peter's home in Capernaum. Some men have a friend who is sick and paralyzed. They have heard that Jesus is a healer, so they carry their friend to the place where Jesus is preaching, believing He can help. When they find that the home is too crowded to enter through the door, they cut a hole in Peter's roof. They lower their friend, who is resting on a stretcher, through the hole and into Jesus' presence. And Jesus sees the friends' great faith and heals the paralyzed man.
There are several things we can take away from this story. The first is that all of us need stretcher-bearers. ... Who are the people who would pick you up, tear off the roof and lower you to Jesus? We all need friends like that, whose faith is strong even when ours is weak, who are friends not just in word, but in deed.

Who are our stretcher-bearers? Whose stretcher-bearer are you?

From Adam Hamilton's book, The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus
It's a good question. And I think I've had it answered over and over again in the past week. The possibilities to serve as Christ's hands and feet in this world today are plentiful:
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Teresa of Avila
And His is the fragrance through which we can honor God in our lives here on earth.


  1. So sorry for the communities and your loss.
    Your words and photos have yet again created a wonderful post and message.

  2. Kim,

    I always appreciate your point of view on delicate life issues.

    It also amazes me that small communities across the nation are similar. I grew up in a small NE community, I am a part of a very rural SD community and they are both similar to your Kansas community. God has many workers to carry out His good will!