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God’s Holy Water – The Vacaville Reporter

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh.” I tested this saying this week in Charleston, SC, where I spoke on both topics – humor and sadness.

On Sunday afternoon I spoke at Providence Church on Laughing Your Way Through Love, Life and Loss.

I began by reminding the audience that “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

My new grandson is teaching me the universal value of laughter in everyday life. The little fella has perfected the art and like most preschoolers, he squeezes the giggle knife 80-90 times a day.

Depending on how researchers define the act of “laughing,” different studies track the hilarity of adults with fewer than two dozen giggles a day.

Doctors tell me that laughter gently exercises our internal organs. It aerates our blood, oxygenates our brain and improves our circulation. All this helps to lower blood pressure.

That’s why, as a chaplain, I try to make patient visits laugh, because that really is the best medicine.

Hopefully, therefore, I believe that I left this theologically advanced church in the best of health. For the full talk, visit tinyurl.com/NorrisLaugh.

My second talk was across town in the chapel at Seacoast Church, just one of 14 locations at this multi-site megachurch in suburban Charleston.

Unfortunately, my topic “The Grammar of Grief” left little room for laughter.

I’ve covered the clichés that represent spiritual misconduct, including “He’s in a better place,” “Everything happens for a reason,” and the inevitable “I know exactly how you feel.”

The hardest thing for me is the conclusion that people of faith shouldn’t cry.

So I told a story about a young woman’s journey through terminal cancer. The 34-year-old was her mother’s only child. She told me that she tried to be strong and not cry.

“Trying not to cry takes an inordinate amount of emotional energy,” I told her. “Perhaps your effort is better spent talking to your mother.

“Besides, you know that your mother will cry when you’re gone. Maybe she wants to cry with you now. Maybe she’s waiting for your cue to cry.”

“Mom hasn’t cried since this whole thing started,” she admitted.

“Maybe you didn’t see her cry,” I speculated. “I suppose the loss of her only child must be devastating, so maybe she’d like the opportunity to express that.”

I told the patient that grief is something her mother shares with God.

Noticing her questioning look, I suggested, “Surely God must have wept when his only son died.

“Doesn’t the Bible teach that Jesus’ crucifixion caused the earth to go dark for three hours? I think your mother’s world must be pretty bleak too,” I told her.

“Tears can be God’s holy water,” I said.

Suddenly, moisture filled her eyes and tears trickled down like water dripping from a paper bag.

A few minutes later in my chapel talk, my own words boomed out at me as I shared my recent heartbreaking loss of my brother Milton and my best friend of 45 years, Roger Williams.

My voice cracked and the words stuttered between my sacred pauses.

I told my listeners that I knew both my brother and my friend were with God, but I wanted them back with me. I wish we could have done this trip together. I missed her and had no words to say it – only public tears.

My tears didn’t embarrass me. They didn’t hurt. I wasn’t ashamed. My faith felt stronger, not weaker.

So for all of you who are grieving today, I pray this blessing: “May God take you to his heart and allow you to hear his soothing voice. May God’s holy water wash you again with His love and care. Amen.”

– If you would like Norris to speak at your church or organization, contact him at comment@thechaplain.net or 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or voicemail (843) 608-9715.

https://www.thereporter.com/2022/03/18/norris-burkes-gods-holy-water/ God’s Holy Water – The Vacaville Reporter

Dais Johnston

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