Beautiful Buildings

Recently, I went to a funeral for the father of a friend. I have never been to a funeral in a more beautiful building–and I have been to funerals in many different beautiful churches. This one stood out to me.

 

It was peacefully beautiful in the dense fog.

 

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And it was even more beautiful after the service when some of the fog had cleared.

 

 

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(Clearly, out of respect, I did not take pictures of the even-more-striking inside.)

 

In this beautiful building, I heard the Scriptures read. I heard truth. But it was not explained.

 

I heard no conviction of Christ’s victory over death or confident statements that we can have assurance and hope in this life and in the life to come based solely in Him. (i.e., Romans 5:2 “Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” & Colossians 1:27 “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”)

 

In this beautiful building, I felt the emptiness of the mourners around me. I saw the futile, misguided “re-sacrificing” of Jesus Christ (in the sacrament of communion). And, I heard the priest hopelessly say that even Jesus wasn’t happy during his life on earth, so we should not expect to be happy here either.*

 

Sadness filled that beautiful building. Why was there was no “hope of glory” shared with my friends?

 

But then again…that is my job.

 

That is why I reach out, make friends, and show love by going to funerals. It is my job to share the hope there is in Christ alone.

 

 

 

 

 

*But if this is the case, what of the many statements of God’s being our joy (i.e., Psalm 4:7 “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”)? What about that fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”)? Is that particular evidence of the indwelling Spirit out of reach? Where is the hope in this confusion?

 

 

Interesting Things I Noticed During an Un-Interesting Meeting

So, I went to a meeting today at Nino’s school. The topic was “What should we do about the leaky roof and the missing tiles on the floor?”

 

I learned a lot about Italians. :)

 

First of all, I learned that they have not been able to fix the  leaky roof properly for 10 years because of the bureaucracy involved. They have finally reached the end of the 10-year period, so they are ready to start talking about it. This probably means another year or so before the roof is fixed (which means the gym area cannot be used until then and there are strategically placed buckets–when it rains). 😉 Actually, one Italian asked for an estimate on when it would be done. The answer was a very definitive: “Some months.” 😉

 

Regardless, the meeting was entertaining (and not only because there was a decent amount of heated Italian “discussion.”).

 

For one thing, I noticed that the man in charge of the meeting arrived 10 minutes late. Though, that was no big deal because there were people drifting in up to nearly 1 hour after the meeting was supposed to start (each one interrupting the meeting by calling out loudly, “Good evening” as they entered).

 

I also noticed that the leader (pictured below in the center) was sporting a lovely pair of dark-colored tennis shoes (with metallic/reflective tongues) with his suit (though maybe he has foot problems).

 

Nice Shoes

 

 

I was entertained by the man who (though he was part of the group of leaders) left his seat up in front (while the speaker was speaking) to plug his phone into the wall. Clearly, he thought he was hiding his actions (behind the speaker is definitely the most inconspicuous spot to choose).

Hiding!

 

 

 

In addition, the same man, retrieved his phone to make or answer a phone call during the meeting…though I shouldn’t be too hard on him because there were others who did the same. By the way, if you cover your mouth, no one will know what you are doing. :)

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And, yes…he wasn’t the only one. But, at least this leader got up and turned his back on the audience to take his call (you can see his empty chair and him–looking out the door).

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So, there you have it. Italian meetings that are filled with difficult vocabulary and have people in an uproar can be fun. :)

 

Good thing I didn’t have to take real notes.

 

smb

 

Update on today’s earthquake…

Many have asked many questions about the earthquake that struck central Italy early this morning. I will attempt to explain the events during and after and how you may better pray for us, for those around us, and for those who are now dealing with tragedy that they have never known before.

This morning, at 3:36 local time (9:36 pm eastern US time), we were awoken by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck about 50 miles southeast of where we live (it is about 1:30-2:00 drive). The earthquake, which was located fewer than 4 miles under the earth’s surface, lasted for nearly half a minute and shook everything. It was not hard to understand what was going on once we were awake, and we quickly moved to make sure that the kids were safe.

After the shaking stopped, Stephanie and I returned to bed, feeling quite nauseous from the earthquake, and attempted to go back to sleep. About an hour later we were once again awoken with an aftershock, this one measuring as a magnitude 5.2 (as of this time there have been more than 60 aftershocks that have all been at least 2.0 magnitude or higher throughout the day). Needless to say, sleep has not been a commodity that we have enjoyed much of today, but that is the worst of what we have “suffered”. Unfortunately many others were not so fortunate.

We praise the Lord that there does not seem to be any damage in our area, or in the areas immediately surrounding our small town. That said, the town where the earthquake was centered, Amatrice, has been devastated. The mayor has said that the city is destroyed (for pictures of the city as it now looks, click here to see them on an Italian newspaper’s website). Several other cities in the area have also sustained a good bit of damage.

How can you pray?

  1. For God to spare lives. As of right now more than 120 people have been reported dead and many more injured or missing. Because this happened in the middle of the night many were buried under piles of rubble. Rescue workers are diligently trying to search for people who may still be alive.
  2. For safety for all. The aftershocks continue, and there is possibility of more damage to buildings that have been weakened by the initial quake.
  3. For comfort for those who are mourning. Many have lost family members and friends. Many are very fearful of what may happen next. Many have lost all physical possessions they had…homes, cars, furnishings, work places.
  4. For peace…In the midst of all that is going on now, pray that God will show them His peace that is found only in Christ.
  5. For opportunities to show Christ’s love to the people here.

Thank you so much for your prayers on our behalf and on behalf of the Italian people.

For the sake of His name,

Tom, Stephanie, Daniela, Nino, & Angelo