Friday, December 16, 2011

Eulogizing Christopher Hitchens

I've critiqued atheist Christopher Hitchens in columns and sermons; but when I heard the news on National Public Radio today that Hitchens had died of esophageal cancer at age 62, I was saddened.

I prayed for the repose of his soul. I thought, "Now, Hitch knows the truth about God."

I imagine a "New Yorker" cartoon: Hitchens--standing before God, the Author of Life--is holding a copy of his book, "God is not Great," his attack upon God. The book dangles in his fingertips, ready to fall onto the cloud. Hitchens looks stunned. God looks amused and says, "Surprised to see me?"

Christopher Hitchens's life abounded in accomplishments: Oxford University graduate; columnist for "The Nation" and "Vanity Fair," and many other publications; George Orwell-enthusiast, author of shelves of books, and much more.

As a reporter and aspiring columnist, I used to read Hitchens's columns in "The Nation." Weekly, he skewered the Reagan Administration. Later, he directed his wrath at Democratic administrations.

I think it's unjust, in my view of justice, that someone as intelligent, insightful, and creative as Hitchens should die at such a young age. He had so much more to think about, to talk about, to write about, to debate--about politics, literature, culture, religion.

Putting aside the unanswerable question of justice, I give God thanks that Hitchens enjoyed 62 years of life and contributed mightily during that time to public discourse on things that truly matter.

It's not the quantity of time, but the quality of the time that one has in this world that truly matters.

Hitchens lived fully and fruitfully during his relatively short life. He certainly gave me and many others a lot to ponder.

God be with you, Christopher Hitchens. Now, you see God face to face, as the Psalmist writes.

And God, you're in for some lively conversation. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

God provides

I confess that I was fretting a little about church finances earlier today.

We're doing well, ahead of where we were last year at this time, but I thought we were doing much better than that; people have been responsive to the 2012 Harvest Stewardship Campaign, including people who haven't pledged before.

Still, I was worried, and worry, while human, is not what Jesus wants from me or from any of his followers.

Instead, he wants us to trust him to provide for us. Indeed, in the gospels he counsels, again and again, "Do not fear" or "Do not be anxious about tomorrow," or some variation on that theme of putting one's total trust in his love and care.

As I swam on my lunch hour, I prayed, seeking to let go of the worry. My prayer was simple: "Lord, have mercy upon me a sinner."

And I let my anxiety go, trusting God to provide for Christ Church.

He did, too.

When I got back to the office just a few minutes ago, I opened a letter from a member. He had enclosed a check for $20,000, most of which will go to our capital campaign.

Thank you, member; and thank you, Jesus.