Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dad

Well, it's another Father's Day and as always, I find myself missing my dad.  So in honor of my dad, Bill Kampe, I'm re-posting this blog (as I seem to do every year), that I wrote many years ago. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I miss you. More now than ever. I could really use your advice and wisdom, because life is crazy right now. Why can't you be here? I can't wait to see you again someday. I'll bet the fishing is great! You'll have to show me all the good spots when I get there!

For me, one of the most comforting aspects of the Christian faith is that God is our “Father”. (Psalms 68:5) My dad died about 12 years ago. That’s something that I never thought I would have to say, let alone write in a blog. “My dad died.” You always look at your parents as being somewhat immortal; especially dads. But they die, and I guess a little part of us was created to expect it. It's natural to lose your parents one day, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Damn it, Dad! Why did you have to leave? 

Each time I talk about my dad, and get to the point of talking about his death, I feel my eyes watering up and my voice crack a little; even today. It’s funny, but I miss him more and more as the years go by. Something will pop into my head, some thought that I want to share with him, or something will happen where I could really use his advice. It’s funny, but sometimes I have to remind myself that he’s not there.

A few years ago, my 15 year old son was experimenting with his electronic set and asking questions that were a little out of my field of knowledge. My dad was an electrical engineer and I began to tell him about how this is the kind of stuff Paw Paw did for a living. He would have loved teaching him how it all worked and the fact that his grandson was showing some aptitude in this area would have given him such a thrill. More than likely, my son Lucas will be an engineer. How I wish that my dad could see that. But my dad was also an introspective poet that loved his first grandson more than life itself. I can in imagine philosophical conversations and advice on love and living life to it;s fullest. Ian, Paw Paw would encourage you more than I ever can! I'll try to share what I learned.     

It’s funny, but I can still hear my Dad’s voice, as if I had just talked with him a few days ago. When I’m away from my wife and boys, I sometimes forget their voices, but I remember my dad’s voice. I remember the deep tone it had and the calm and methodical way he spoke. When he was excited or passionate about something, he would get more animated and stutter a little. That’s how you could tell that he was really interested in the conversation.

I remember my dad coming home from work late in the day. He would open the door quickly and come through with a big stride. He always had the paper in his hand and would lightly hit me with it. “Hey, guy!”, he would say with a big smile, and would go in the kitchen to say hi to Mom. That “dad smell” would waft passed me as he went by, and I felt comfortable. I felt safe. Dad was home.

I’ve learned that being a dad is a lot harder than being a son. My dad told me one time that I would never feel the same security that I did when I was a boy living at home, once I had my own family. And he was right, to an extent. I’m the one who carries the burdens and fights the monsters under the bed. I’m the one that is responsible for creating the safe structure of home and peace that my boys rest in.

But like I said, my dad was only right to an extent. I believe that even though I have the enormous responsibility of being a father, the burden is not 100% on my shoulders. We are stewards of these amazing gifts that God has given us. God still calls the plays; we just carry the ball. And I do feel some shades of the security that I once felt as a child from time to time. When I feel close to God and His presence is evident, flowing around me, I feel safe. When I come to Him as a little child, and rest in His arms, I feel peace. And as I comfort my boys and do my best to create the peaceful structure that they deserve, I feel God doing the same for me. He’s my Father. He’s Dad. (John 20:17)

My dad believed in God, but I don’t know if He felt the same security on which I’ve learned to depend. I think that he carried a lot of burdens that he didn’t realize were not his to carry. Burdens that I carry myself. See, my grandfather died when my Dad was only 9 years old, so he had to learn how to be a dad with only a small point of reference. He had to learn to depend on himself for much of his life and that made him a little harder. He grew up without a father and I wonder how much different his life would have been had his dad lived a longer life. And for that matter, what would my life be like today?

Either way, dad did his very best at raising two boys, and he did a damn good job; maybe better than me. I told him that a few years before he died, and he said that that was one of those things you wait your entire parenting life to hear. I hope to hear it someday, and I hope that my boys will grow up feeling just a little more security than I did. Not security from me, but from God, who wants them to have a peace that transcends all of their understanding. (Philippians 4:7) I want them to feel that security of knowing that everything is OK. It’s taken care of. Dad’s home. 


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lenten Reflections: Second Sunday of Lent

"Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise."


Psalm 51:15-17


There is a profound dichotomy that lies within the season of Lent. Points of light are shrouded in darkness. Each week is a dark and cluttered hallway. Sunday is a point of light that beckons us forward. 

During Lent, we take pause to reflect on the dark places of our lives, and yet open ourselves up for times to rejoice. On Sunday, we turn our focus to the expectation, hope, joy and restoration brought about through the transforming work of Christ; both individually and corporately. We come together in unity, realizing that we are on this journey together. 

Sunday is light. Tomorrow darkness returns. 

We enter another dark hallway, filled with the refuse that is our life.  

Sin reminds us to rejoice. We look to the light. 

Rejoicing reminds us of sin. We look to the darkness.

Repetitive for 40 days.

Today we rejoice. Today we bath in light. Tomorrow we walk back in the dark to reflect once again on the filth that lies within. Another long hallway awaits us, with yet another dim light beckoning to us from the end. Just enough to illumine our way. 

Today we rejoice. 

Today we feast.

Tomorrow we lament. 

Tomorrow we fast. 

Today we embrace.

Tomorrow we sacrifice. 

God, today we embrace the presence of your Spirit. Today we celebrate. Today we rejoice. But as we continue our journey of Lent tomorrow, fill us with anticipation of the hope we have in You through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen    

Thursday, April 20, 2017

God's Rain


God's Spirit falls upon the earth
  like rain in Spring
Saturating all creation
  Covering all
Upon the dry and lifeless soul,
  bound by cold space
Penetrating numb resistance
  Softening stone
Running across vast location
  No direction
Ending and returning without
  Within unknown
Washing away filth and decay
  Leaving exposed
Left behind as the day of birth,
  fresh and open
Peering out at what lies ahead
  Forgotten self
Breathing in as new life springs forth
  God like the rain
quenches a thirsty creation
  longing for more.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Advent Reflections: December 14

Joy 

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Luke 2:9-12

Reflection

Fear of the unknown is a very common emotion these days. As our world continues to change, unknown factors of life increase as well. Our lives are filled with many uncertainties, all of which contain a litany of various unfamiliar aspects and results. When faced with the unfamiliar, many of us find ourselves reacting with every emotion from uneasiness to shear panic. Basically, most us just don’t like to face the unknown.

But with every unknown situation, there is the opportunity for joy to transcend our fears. Unfortunately, fear is one of the greatest factors that hold many of us back from accomplishing extraordinary things. Think about this for a moment. Is it not usually true that when we take a critical step of faith, trusting God even while consumed with fear, that the overwhelming joy we experience overshadows previous fears? Is it not usually worth the risk?  

As the Angel of the Lord appeared to the Shepherds, and the manifestation of the glory of God surrounded them, they were afraid. Who wouldn't be? In the presence of the unknown, fear overshadowed the joy that God was about to proclaim. By the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid”, the Good News of Jesus Christ was proclaimed, and the unknown became known. Fear became joy. Truth transcended uncertainty.          
                      
Prayer

God, we face many uncertainties in this world and confess that the unknown causes great fear. But in your declaration of truth, through your son, all fears are transcended to joy. Allow the essential truth that was declared to the shepherds to be the same joy that finds us today. 

Amen 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Advent Reflections: December 13


Joy

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:18-21


Reflection

There are times in life when occasions that usually should bring joy do anything but. Two people are married for the wrong reasons. A promotion is accepted, but requires too much time away from home. A new home is purchased, but the debt is overwhelming. A child is born when the pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected. 


Most of us do our best to make good choices in life, but we all make mistakes, don't we? When those mistakes become realities, we hope and pray with all of our heart that God will transform our circumstances and forgive us in our failures. And sometimes we see that our circumstances, although not anticipated or planned for, turn out to be unexpected blessings from a loving God.

Joseph certainly did not anticipate Mary becoming pregnant before they were married. The Bible tells us that he was a righteous man, most likely making good decisions for most of his young life. But yet here he was, facing the possible ending of his relationship with Mary and the ramifications that would affect both of them for the rest of their lives. 

But being a man of God and knowing and knowing that something unusual was going on, Joseph made the best decision that his human mind could comprehend: he would divorce Mary with as much dignity possible. After all, from his perspective, she had been unfaithful.

It was only then that God stepped in to reveal to Joseph that this blessed occasion would not be a burden after all, but an event that would change the world. Joseph made the wrong decision based on his limited knowledge. God revealed that this was not his choice to make, and regardless of the unexpected circumstances, joy would rise from the birth of this unexpected child.

Prayer

God, in the midst of our mistakes, bad decisions, our failures and unexpected situations in life, help us to see the joy in all that you do through us. Help us to see that while our circumstances may be unexpected, joy can always come through our trust in you.

Amen