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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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December 9, 2010

Word Beyond Death

Those of you who know me know that, as a general rule, I don’t like self-revelation in public discourse.  But I’m going to tell you what’s happened to me lately in order to shamelessly promote the Office and Theology’s Invitation to the Word

My husband died October 30 of a heart attack at the age of 51 while we were on a weekend trip. 

What got me through those horrible first few days was the Word, the living Word of the living Lord who came to me through scripture and those who embody its words.  Scripture literally became my lifeline. 

A lifeline isn’t just something on a game show.  In the nineteenth century, lighthouse keepers saved those who shipwrecked by setting up a lifeline, a rope tied on one end to a buoy off shore with the other end attached to something stable like a tree on shore.  Whenever the lighthouse keeper had to save anyone, he dragged them over to the lifeline and pointed them toward shore so that they could follow the lifeline to safety.  A lifeline saved those who otherwise would have drowned in the disorientation of a storm’s waves and/or dense fog.  As long as they clung to the lifeline, though, they would be safe.

In those first few days after my husband’s death, whenever I started to sink under the overwhelming waves of grief and confusion, which was about every two hours, I opened the Bible or the Book of Common Worship.  (Yes, I had one with me on the trip.)   I gathered my daughters, and we did one of the offices of daily prayer and read a lot of scripture.  In between these prayers, the scripture I had stored up in my heart spoke a peace that passed all understanding. 

Local Presbyterian pastors, the Rev. Drs. Linda Morgan-Clement and Jeff Paschal, ministered the Word to us in prayer as well.  Christ came in the kind compassion of EMT's, doctors, police, hotel staff, funeral home directors, total strangers, family, friends, and amazing colleagues. The liturgies in witness to the Resurrection that have been (and are yet to be) held hold me secure as, through them, in the great company of the saints, I can feel the everlasting arms of God underneath and around me.  The blessings of scripture that have poured in from all over the world have anointed me with a strange joy in the midst of this horrendous storm.

In the words of scripture and the blessings of the church, the living Lord has inexplicably come to me on the waves that threatened to drown me.  Though it has been six weeks since my husband’s death and the cold swells of reality are slapping me in the face, I find that as long as I keep moving toward Christ, clinging to the lifeline of scripture, I know, with Julian of Norwich, that “all will be well and all things will be well.”  No, I haven’t a clue as to how, and I don’t need to know.  I just need to read, pray, study, remember, and embody scripture, clinging to this lifeline God has provided as I keep moving toward Christ, my lighthouse keeper waiting on the distant shore where death has no more dominion.   

I want others to know this amazing peace and joy when wicked winds of change toss life topsy turvy, so won't you please issue an Invitation to the Word to help others attach to the lifeline of scripture.  The practices there look deceptively simple, like a rope tied to a tree, but they are lifesaving, for what they do is introduce us to the One the Bible is about--the living Lord who, when all around us is roiling in sin and death, continues to speak peace and joy and hope.  And it is so.   

Categories: Faith, Invitation to the Word, Spirituality