Playing Games with Death

Playing Games with Death

Sometimes Death sits at the table
Hand resting on the cards.
We pull away,
Not ready for the last trick,
The trump card
In the game of life.

We put up a hand,
Submit to shuffling through
Machines, medicines, machinations.
Delay tactics?
Cheating death?
One more round…
We play the gambling game
With Death at the door.
But Death smiles,
Hides his cards
Hovers.

Or

Sometimes Death doesn’t show up to the game.
Instead walking switchbacks
Where no obstacles exist.
He inches forward,
Extending a card
Then pulling it back—
Seeming to mercilessly tease
The recipient who lays
Open handed.
Prepared,
To lay it all down.

Why? We ask
Does death not come
To the table
When invited.
Why does he delay—
Standing on the sidelines
Smiling peacefully
Awaiting some unknown appointment time
When he is already tardy?
Can we hurry him along?
And yet, death comes in his own time.
We think we make the rules
But Death knows
The Master playmaker.

Joy Eastridge, 2015

Taxes, Fees and Earthly Hassles

Taxes, Fees and Earthly Hassles

Being Christians does not free us from the day-to-day hassles of living on this earth. Our challenge is to not be buried by paperwork, chores, notices, rules and regulations. Often, we get frustrated with bureaucracies and the level of complexity that taxes, fines and fees add to our lives. Wouldn’t it be great to have a year with no taxes? But then, aren’t we blessed by interstate highways, potable water, hot showers, trash pick-up?

Jesus and his disciples lived in a complicated world too. Twice we see Jesus addressing the issue of taxes with his disciples: first the Temple Tax in Matthew 17 and later the taxes to Caesar in Matthew 22.

Jesus’ disciples have heard enough from him to know that he operates in a different realm. They begin to wonder if they even need to fuss with all this tax stuff. After all, he is going to be the great king very soon—right?

But Jesus tells them to pay up and carry on and even adds a miracle with the coin appearing in the mouth of a fish. He also answers the pharisees with a wise phrase, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (22:21).

Jesus’ treatment of living a spiritual life in a secular world makes us think. Even then, Jesus did not abolish the current order of things. He taught his followers to continue to live in a broken world and yet not to be overcome by it. “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

Sometimes we see injustice: wrongly assessed fines, traffic stops that make us grit our teeth, taxes that are too high. We have to choose when to fight and when to pay. What Jesus seems to say is, “Carry on. Live here for now, pay what you must, and then focus on me.”

An Open Letter to Chrissy and her husband, Wesley…

Passing on faith, hope and love to our children is one of the supreme challenges and blessings of our lives. This Christmas we shared a few thoughts with our daughter and son-in-love as they begin the adventure of parenting.

 

Christmas 2015

Dear Chrissy and Wesley,

You have a lot of important jobs as parents: feeding Olivia, taking her to the doctor, making sure she is safe in her carseat, and keeping her away from outlets. But as the temporary guardians of this little human being, you have an even greater responsibility—the nurture of her soul and the privilege of introducing her to the God that you both love. This divine appointment surpasses all the other chores of raising a child and elevates the little things from the mundane to the eternal. Picking up her toys can become an opportunity for gratitude; giving her a bath a chance to baptize your little one in prayer; smiling with her a chance to see once again how great is the love of the Father for all of us.

So as the parents of our first grandchild, we pass on to you the Advent Tree that we used when the kids were small. Maybe it will become a tool for your family in focusing on what is really important during the Holy Day Season. And know that we join you eagerly in helping to nurture Olivia to be all that God has planned for her.

Much love,

Nana and Pops