Our lives were forever changed the day we lost Corey. He was an amazing man who loved the Lord and his family with all that he was. The pain of losing him is like no other. Our only comfort comes from knowing we will see him again someday.

I have moved the slideshow played at Corey's service to it's own post page above, titled "Corey's Memorial Service - August 10, 2010"

Follow by email: Please enter your email address below if you wish to be notified of new posts

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve: Justice and Grace

       It is a Christmas tradition in my family to attend a Candlelight service on Christmas Eve. When I was a little girl my mom would take my sister and I. We'd get all dressed up and do our best to sit still through the hour long service as we tried to contain our excitement about the presents that were waiting for us back at the house. Santa always made a stop by my mom's house on Christmas eve since we spent Christmas morning at my Dad's (my parents divorced when I was 3).  Every Christmas eve was celebrated with my mom and Christmas morning at my dad's.
      This year, like many others, we attended the candlelight service at the same church I grew up in. It's the same place where Corey and I met and were married. We always enjoy going back there, especially on Christmas eve because many of our friends from our youth group days (during high school) are also in town for Christmas and we get to catch up after the service. The only difference this year was that I was there as a single mom without my other half. I've mentioned before that doing things and going places that were a part of our life together usually bring me more comfort than sorrow. Tonight was really no different in that way. I felt like God met me there in my grief and reminded me of his great love for me, giving me 'hints' of Corey throughout the service.
       The advent candles were lit and some verses were read. It was a sweet moment when I heard the familiar verses from Isaiah being read that I have posted under Corey's picture on the home page of my blog (Isaiah 60:19-20). I felt like God led me to those verses back in October when I was in the midst of writing my "Out of the Darkness" post. I don't believe I had read or heard them before that instance and I can't recall ever hearing them read at church or spoken in the context of Christmas, so it took me a bit by surprise... I knew that it was a gift of comfort from God meant just for me. When we sang the old familiar Christmas hymns that night I couldn't help but feel closer to Corey, knowing that he was also celebrating Jesus's birthday, in Jesus's very presence! I had never really thought much about what Christmas in heaven must be like until this year. What a grande celebration it must be!
        Praising God in the midst of my tragedy has not been difficult. Because worshiping God was something that Corey and I did here on earth together, it brings me comfort knowing that it is still something we can do together...despite our separation. He might be in heaven, but we are unified in our love for Christ. It brings me so much joy as I visualize him in God's presence free from the burdens of this world. I have had moments of such joy in the midst of my sorrow that outside of being a gift from God, I would never know.
         The message that evening was a bit "heavy" compared to the typical Christmas messages I've heard in the past. It was shared with more of an intellectual style which was definitely Corey's forte. I'd never heard this pastor speak as he is fairly new to the church but I found him interesting to listen to. The basic gist of his message was explaining God's plan of salvation through Jesus.  He talked about God's options in dealing with humanity and how God's answer for saving humanity fits with his character, particularly the attributes of justice and grace.  The pastors words immediately brought me back to an email Corey had written to one of his co-workers just a week before his death.  His coworker sent it to me with the comment that it was just "one of the examples of how passionate Corey was about his beliefs."  The two of them were dialoging back and forth about how we are not saved by our own efforts (good works getting us into heaven) but by God's saving work through Christ. The message on Christmas eve was so reflective of Corey and the Truth that he was passionate about. I'm including his email below. I always admired his confidence in talking with others about his beliefs and his ability to use logic and reason. He was very smart.  Here's his email. I have inserted some bits in brackets to give further explanation. If you take the time to read all the way to the bottom, you'll get a chuckle from the P.S. comment and will know for certain that Corey wrote this ;)  I miss him so much.
So couple quick thoughts to share…
     Being a good person, doing good, etc. is expected {of someone who claims to be "in Christ", a Christian}, not really debatable.  The reason or cause of the good works is {debatable}. 
On the one hand, you have Christianity, which teaches/explains that the good works we do as Christians, are because of our having been “born again”or “regenerated”through our believing in Jesus to save us.  In other words, Christianity teaches that “all have sinned and fallen short of the righteousness of God” and require (need, cannot do without) being made right with God.  
It’s this saving work of God that makes us right with God.
    On the other hand, you have all, yep all other world religions that teach that a right standing with God is “earned” (through doing good works) and not given”.
    You may be thinking that one belief over another is arrogant, exclusive.  A very normal reaction to the exclusivity factor.  (One of the) responses to that problem is laid out in this scenario:
The God of the Bible could:
  • Save everyone
  • Save no-one
  • or Save some people...
  • Further, If God chose to save “some”, he could include some factor of choice, which would actually put more ppl at jeopardy, or he could “ensure” the saving of some.
Christians vary about which option is true, but to me and many others throughout 2000 yrs of history, the Bible is very clear that the last option is the only satisfactory choice that can navigate through a number of really tough dilemmas about the definition of “Justice” and “Grace”.
     It’s more about taking the time to examine belief systems, and putting aside any buzz phrases or loaded statements.  I can tell you I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching my views and other views, have changed my mind at times, and have a better understanding having done the exercise. 
 Unfortunately, some of the big questions we touched on can’t be fully talked through in short conversations, I can tell you that much. 
 Talk to you tomorrow… Gotta go. 
 One of the most self-convicting, introspection worthy statements I keep coming back to is this one (which you para-phrased):
 ''The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply find unbelievable.''
 Genesis Chapter 3 (the fall of man), Romans 8 and 9 (God’s sovereign choice) are good places to start, also Jn. 6:44 
 P.S. Defending Christianity through philosophy, science, history, etc is probably my favorite topic.  Kioti vs. John Deere doesn’t even hold a candle to it!

1 comment:

  1. As I got to the PS part of this post, I smiled and cried... That sums up why Matt liked him so much. His love for the Truth. It's still hard to believe. You're doing a good job taking care of the girls through this jill. I'm proud of you. love you, Stacy