We are all still caught up in the sadness. Charlie Mason is gone and too soon again we are grieving. Our prayers go up to God in the hope that Janet and Bobby and their families can move to a place better than sorrow or regret, richer than the feeling of loss, brighter than the light now absent that was Charlie's smile.
Everyone who knew Charlie has responded to the news and gracefully each has found a congruence somewhere between their plans and the real life passing of one we love. Advent is busy with responding to the call. We have had to put some of our work to prepare for Sunday's Ministry Fair and Picnic on a brief hold. It reminds me of the old saw, "Life is what happens while you're making plans."
Churches and the people who make them get to live into that truth in special ways. Maybe its because we know the other version of that famous quotation. It's the one with God in it. "If you want to make God laugh just show God your plans."
We know that version because we know the stories of God calling prophets, and kings, and priests and lots of others all the way to Mary and even Paul. God's laughter wouldn't be one of derision or insult but more as an acknowledgement that we have not fully understood the picture that God sees for us. But we know the stories of God seeing our plans and calling us to change them.
The name of that "change in plans" motif is the "Prophetic Call Narrative Form." Even as Moses is following his sheep herding plans from the burning bush God calls, changes things and commits to supporting Moses in this new direction. It happens for the prophet Isaiah "in the year that King Uzziah died." It's an incredible experience that culminates with God's promise to be with him. Mother Mary gets called similarly and is told to name the child Emmanuel which means "God is with us."
God saw more of what was to happen. God called a servant and in some cases called a host of servants to help. God said to those who were called, especially to those for whom this task would seem daunting, "I'll be with you."
God called Charlie and his and all our plans changed. Everyone of us has heard that call because we love Janet and Charles and Clay and Sarah and Tina and each of the ones they in turn love. Those of us who love Bobby and his family have heard the call, too.
The laughter will come. I'm pretty sure that God's being with us means that God isn't laughing yet. I want it to be true that God will wait until we are laughing and wait to be invited into that laughter. God will wait because just as much as God can see that larger view God is with us in our grief.
God calls and promises to be with us. God waits while our plans change. God keeps calling and life is what happens. Thanks be to God.