Mick’s Memo – The House of Mourning

Typically, in writing a memo at this time of the year I am pondering how the championship of professional football relates to life.  Maybe later this week people will be recovered sufficiently to be fully engaged in football, but it seems for the moment to be uncharacteristically languishing on the back burner. The typical inane banter of sports conversation on all media outlets, the usual vitriol of the 24/7 political news programming, the casual conversation at work and the spectrum of topics on social media have been overshadowed by reaction to the sudden and tragic death of 9 occupants who crashed in a helicopter—headlined by the iconic basketball legend, Kobe Bryant.  The tragedy takes an even more somber tone when combined with the death of his daughter and others close to them.

The shock is palpable and for good reason. Kobe Bryant lived his entire adult life in in the fishbowl of professional sport and its media maelstrom.  He leaped, passed, shot, dunked, blocked, stole and threaded the needle with passes before cameras that slowed down and magnified his singular physical skills, talent and intense drive for dominance. Because of the obtrusive and ubiquitous cameras his “growing up” was also on full display.  He seemed aloof, even hostile and fell prey to temptation.  But we also saw him mature, take responsibility for his actions and invest in others.

Reactions have shown the wisdom of words written nearly 3000 years ago by the aging King Solomon at the end of a life lived in public and in search of life’s significance.  Reflecting on his own experience he said…

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. … The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.            Ecclesiastes 7:2,4 (NIV)

I can resonate with his observations.  On Saturday I was saddened but privileged to oversee and participate in a memorial celebration of the long and fruitful life of Liz Hart.  Her son spoke of how she could honestly say, along with the Apostle Paul… “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV).  We were mourning for our loss but rejoicing for her prospect of blessing.  Her life of love and godly influence were an example and a reminder to us all of the amazing impact of a life lived in obscure settings with few worldly riches; and yet filled with significance.  In contrast we see many pursuing and are tempted ourselves to pursue significance and fulfillment through wealth, notoriety, pleasure or power.

When confronted with the “house of mourning” by this crash, the sports pundits, political sirens, and people across the public landscape have made some profound observations.  They have spoken of the brevity of life, the resultant preciousness of every moment, the priority of relationships, the value of mentoring and caring about others and the reality of the other side of the grave.  They have spoken about things we can control and things we cannot.  We have all been exposed to wisdom that this coming weekend’s football game will not provide.

I pray that God will comfort and sustain the grieving families of the crash victims.  My hope is that the victims knew Jesus as Savior and that their families can find solace and hope in the promises of the Gospel.  I pray also that those who have been brought to the “house of mourning” will apply the stunning observations they have taken away from it and link it to the gospel where true help can be found.

This weekend our “Teen Takeover” will reflect on faith, hope, and love; the very things that rise to highest importance when we visit the “house of mourning”.  You won’t want to miss it!

Special thanks to Betsy, her adult team, our Kingdom Kids, and the production team for a great presentation of The Agape League last weekend.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it, you can check it out on our website in the sermon archives.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

Mick