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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Amish buggies at home viewing 2/1/10
 A home visitation following the death of one of their own.

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"Fulfilling The Law Of Christ"

"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

Yesterday afternoon was a solemn and memorable experience for our family. A friend of ours suffered a massive stroke about three weeks ago.  She underwent life-saving surgery, yet her body was unable to recover from the physical trauma which tragically led to her death on Saturday.  She was only 53 years of age.  Yesterday we went to the visitation which was held in the family's home. We were advised to come in the afternoon since it would be very crowded in the evening. They expected around a thousand people would come and pay their respects.

Certainly the setting was a very different surrounding for us to attend a viewing.  Our friends are Amish and, in their custom, the home is the setting in which they honor their loved ones at their time of death. We pulled into their driveway and parked in the lawn right next to a buggy. There were lots of buggies and a few cars where drivers sat waiting while their Amish passengers paid their respects. We walked into the house, which was full of people sitting in chairs and benches quietly facing each other in dim lighting since there is no electricity.  Being the only "English" present at the time (the term Amish use for non-Amish) we asked to see our friends. They came out to greet us, embraced us warmly, and then ushered us through the quiet crowd.

They took us to a closed room where a very simple wooden casket held their mother's body. A group of young people gathered around, several quietly weeping as we paid our respects. Our conversation centered around the loving legacy this dear one left behind for her children and grandchildren, and most especially her vibrant faith in Jesus Christ.  We also conversed about heaven where she is now clothed in immortality.  We then went to express our condolences to the widower, a normally jovial man, before leaving the home.

Amish milk barnThe son-in-law of the deceased is a dairy farmer.  As you well know it's a type of work you just don't put off to a more convenient time. Twice a day (on some farms, three times) the cows must be milked. I asked him who was tending the farm as he was spending time with his family during their time of bereavement. Right away he responded that neighbors willingly came to his aid knowing that he had important family responsibilities.  Others came to his aid during the extended visits to the hospital over the past weeks as well.

Bearing one another's burdens

Caring people helping people in need brings to mind today's Scripture text which is a powerful rule for the earnest follower of Christ. We are to "bear one another's burdens."  To "bear" means to carry or endure. A "burden" means a weight that is heavy or crushing. We have all had experiences in life when others have some alongside and bore our burdens with us. We are called to do likewise.

In doing so we "thereby fulfill the law of Christ."  What was Paul was referring to when he wrote that when we bear one another's burdens we fulfill the "law of Christ".  It isn't specified, but in our view it is likely the teaching known as "The Golden Rule".  "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

Bearing one another's burdensLikely, Paul's counsel to the Galatians dealt with specific burdens that fellow believers in their particular body were dealing with.  But surely it pleases the Lord when we take an interest in and bear the burdens of hurting humanity whether they're our immediate neighbors or not.  In doing so I believe this fulfills the "law of Christ."  (This is the only time in Scripture this phrase is used.)

Bob Pearce, who founded World Vision, often stated, "Let my heart be broken with that which breaks the heart of God." Today whose burden has God called upon you to bear?  Who needs a hug, a prayer, "a word fitly spoken" or a helping hand?  Let us be faithful in bearing one another's burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, there are so many hurting people in our world, our community and even in our own family, that it can be very difficult to know just where You want us to help.  As we see the need and prayerfully seek Your leading, we want to help bear another's burden.  Not only can we bless another in need but we can find fulfillment in caring for others the way we'd like to be cared for in our hour of need.  We pray that You would help us to move forward as we reach out in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Brooksyne's note:
In the morning hours shortly before the stroke occurred this dear loved one penned a loving letter to her niece whose parents were recently killed in a house fire.  It was filled with Scriptural hope, reminding her that God had not forsaken them but would care for their needs. After being told about the letter I stopped to read it before leaving.  The daughter told me that they now consider this to be a letter not just for her mother's niece, but also for them.  It was as though she were writing this message for her own husband and children as well.

One of the issues that I believe we all must deal with in our life and ministry is the tendency toward callousness in regard to the hurts of others.  In this age of instant information we can be flooded with tragedies around the world such as earthquakes, bombings, etc.  We can grow numb to the hurt felt by real souls.  I want my heart to be compassionate and soft so I can pray for and appropriately respond to the hurts of others.

Amish funeral processionThe funeral for our friend's mother will be held today at the home. An Amish funeral procession is an interesting and solemn sight. This photo was taken following the school shootings at Nickle Mines here in Lancaster County.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Let Your Heart Be Broken"  Video  This is a local church version and poorly mixed IMHO. But I commend churches for putting up portions of their services on the web!  This is a song we enjoy singing with great lyrics. Here are the words

"You Raise Me Up"  Video  Selah

"Make Me A Servant"  Video

"I Offer My Life To You"  Video

Some terminally curious may enjoy an online photo album
 I prepared several years ago after a visit to an Amish milk barn.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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