Thursday, February 07, 2013

David Hardy Nease

I got my middle name from my dead uncle. 

I'm not sure where my grandparents got his name, but I like to think how it came all the way back from the greatest king of the nation of Israel, "a man after God's own heart," a guy who quite literally screwed up royally and yet came to be the name that would set the pattern for the Messiah. 

David: man after God's own heart. 
Jesus: man after God's own heart.

My uncle died two months short of turning ten years old in 1970. When I was younger I used to think it funny that I had an uncle younger who never surpassed me in age. Of course, I never met him because he died over 10 years before I was born. It's also funny to think that he would be be almost 53 years old today. That's a difficult thought even more than it is a funny one, because we think of years lost, memories never made, and people never met.

Though the drowning of a ten year old boy who was trying to help his dog out of a frozen pond is particularly perplexing, the wake of death at any age brings a surge of questions: 
Why? Why him (her)? How could there be a loving God? What in God's name does this serve? 

I didn't really see the explicit resulting markings of my uncle's death upon my grandparents, though I've often wondered if I could see them implicitly in moments of silence or when catching them staring off into the air, particularly for my grandmother.

My wife's uncle was a long-time friend of my grandparents. I've heard him tell the story often of the time when my grandparents were sent away by those who loved them to have opportunity to grieve. One of their take aways from that time was a shared song

No limits, no measure, no boundary, indeed.

I preached on resurrection in light of the Sabbath this past Sunday. It's notable to me that Jesus was dead for the whole of the Sabbath; that on the day of not-work, after a life of (quite literally) giving his all, Jesus' dead body was in the ground. We so often assume that the best results come out of an activity that produces. But there's apparently something very worthwhile about what "happens" in times of sabbath. And despite the lingering of death, pain, grief, missed opportunities, and regretful (in-)action, something can yet be resurrected out of the death-full grave nonetheless.

Uncle David's grave marker says simply, "Dear Jesus I love you. Amen." I'm told that this was his prayer most nights. My seminary-trained, perpetually-theologically-thinking heart-brain couldn't have come up with a better prayer.

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