ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
THE REVEREND BARRY GRIFFIN
In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul instructed the young church to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” He could have written the same thing to us today. Today St. Augustine’s both rejoices and weeps.
We weep because we have lost one of our own. After a long hospital stay, James Blackstock died last Thursday. We grieve this tremendous loss. James was a patriarch of this parish. On this Father’s Day we have lost one of our fathers. He will be missed profoundly. Back in the parish hall James had his own seat. He always sat next to the door. No one will ever fill that seat like James.
At the same time, we rejoice. We have very good news from Deacon Liz concerning her cancer treatment. I’ll read what she wrote in her blog last Wednesday.
(Hope is Liz’s daughter.)
“As Hope and I anticipated our trip to NYC to meet with a doctor at Sloan Kettering for a second opinion, we met with my oncologist here on Monday afternoon to review the scan results and find out any questions we needed to relay to Sloan Kettering. We like my doctor’s straight-forward, no nonsense approach to his patients. He usually provides a matter-of-fact summary of my progress, but on Monday he was somewhat animated and light-hearted. I really thought he might break out into a jig! What was so encouraging to him was the radiologist’s report of my scan. Except for one tumor, all of the other ones decreased in size by 50%! This is an amazing outcome and one to be celebrated. This was further confirmed when my chemo nurse, Alicia, told us that when she saw the report of my scan she yelled, ‘Yes!!!’”
Liz went on to say that she is postponing the trip to New York and sticking with the chemo treatments here since they are working. Liz finished with: “We’re keeping our fingers crossed! (Positive thoughts, light, and prayers are invoked, too!)”
In a follow-up personal email Liz asked me to share this news with you today. She asked me to thank you for your prayers. You are supporting Liz in this journey, and she knows it. She has told me again and again that your prayers, your cards, your contacts mean so much to her. You have come through for Liz. Knowing you as I do, I am not surprised.
We also rejoice with Robert and Ginny Harrell. Robert had open heart surgery recently, and it went very well. He’s back home now, resting and regaining his strength. He appreciates emails, cards and texts.
When I visited him in the hospital last Wednesday, Robert described his heart surgery in detail. We spoke at length about the procedure used by the surgeon. I learned some things about the heart that I didn’t know (not that I knew very much to begin with).
About two hours later I began work on today’s sermon, and I came across a quote by Joseph Dutkowsky, M.D. He wrote: “Nobody can will their heart to beat even once. Every heartbeat is a gift from God, and it means God is not done with you yet.”
Wow. Talk about synchronicity. Talk about meaningful coincidence. God uses such things to get our attention.
So that’s today’s sermon in a nutshell. No one can will their heart to beat even once. Every heartbeat is a gift from God, and it means God is not done with you yet.
Last Thursday God came for our brother James. Jesus took James home. We miss him. But we’re still here. And every heartbeat, every single one, is a gift from God. Regardless of our circumstances, it means God is not done with us yet.
God is not done with you. God loves you, and you love God by serving God. You receive, and you give. You breathe in, and you breathe out. You inhale, you exhale. You have a pulse. Your heart contracts, then it releases, and life blood flows through your veins.
Every heartbeat is a gift from God. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t waste it. Use it while you can.
Live, love and serve the Lord.
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