Saturday, May 05, 2012

Troubling News

This week has been one of dealing with troubling news.  In addition to the ongoing advancement of the march against our freedom as Americans, some very personal troubling news surfaced and became prominent for us.  My mother called on Friday morning a week ago to share the news that my sister-in-law had been found dead sometime in the latter part of the previous day.  At that time Mom had very little information beyond that my sister-in-law, Kimberly, had been found dead between 4 and 8 pm Thursday.

The news was relayed to Mom by my brother-in-law, who had received it from Kimberly’s live-in boyfriend.  As more information became available we learned that the boyfriend was the one who found her dead on the floor.

Such news comes hard and is deeply distressing and heart wrenching, even though it was not entirely unanticipated.  Kim’s death did not occur without warning.

Sadly there is a long period of serious dysfunction in our family.  While most of the family disagrees with me, this dysfunction is the direct result of the disintegration of the identity and integrity of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod and the family’s refusal to acknowledge and flee the pernicious changes in doctrine and practice.  Little by little, the family was changed by their communion in this ever-changing communion.  The unity and stability that was once enjoyed by all in the family was eroded until only chaos and dysfunction and animosity and confusion remained.

Personal dysfunction ensued.  Things became very, very troubled in the family.

This dysfunction extended to Kimberly so that she eventually left my brother, taking the children, filing for divorce, and many other hard actions.  Many painful court actions continued throughout this drawn out ordeal.  Much more destruction of family relations grew.

Within the first week of this action, Kimberly asked me to be her friend on Facebook.  Since this was my only means of contact I tried to express both support of her in her struggle, but also warned her of the destruction that she was bringing upon herself and her family.  I urged seeking answers together in the Lord.  Sadly, she immediately removed me as one her Facebook friends.  It would be almost three years before I would again have opportunity to have contact with her.

Kim began using and abusing drugs.  She was arrested several times for drugs and for stealing.  She failed to appear in court regarding those issues and regarding the divorce proceedings that she initiated and pursued and was found and arrested and held without bail.  Since her parents reportedly had lost hope for her, she was now very much alone.  She had abandoned some time earlier her children, whom the court had returned to my brother’s custody.

Having learned that Kim was now in jail, I called the facility to learn the proper address and mailing information and began writing to her to remind her that we still loved her and desired the peace of the Lord to be hers.  During this time I wrote several times and sent two sermons, but without any response from her.  I continually expressed our love for her and especially God’s love and forgiveness for whatever things were on her heart.  Having shared the mailing information with my mom, she also wrote to her with assurances of ongoing love.

After her death, her boyfriend called my mom and told her that Kim had received the letters but wondered whether we could be sincere in expressing love for her.

I have spent many hours over the past week in phone conversations with my mom and brother, and briefly with my nephew and niece.  It has been a very hard time for them all, and for Kim’s side of the family as well.  Much painful injury has occurred.

Sadly, this sort of story is not at all uncommon in our society today.  In fact, such unrest and dysfunction and disintegration of family is counted as quite common.

Growing up I never imagined such to be possible in my family.  We lived together in the clear and confident confession of the one true faith.  We found solace and reconciliation in the Lord’s forgiveness and Communion.  The grace, mercy, and peace of God in Christ was the foundation of our life together.  We knew and believed that all of our shortcomings and failures and wrongdoings were washed away in our baptisms and that in the Holy Communion the Lord restored His life of true unity to us.  While our sinfulness certainly was a daily issue for us, we nevertheless were safe in the Holy Communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the communion of the saints created and maintained in communion with them.

We watched in dismay as other families, even portions of our extended family, tore themselves to pieces.  But we never imagined such to be what we would ever experience.

Sadly, a very beautiful member of our family suffered greatly in her heart and mind and life until her body finally succumbed to the stresses that overpowered her.

Her obituary and picture can be seen here.

It really says nothing at all about her.  She really was a very lovely woman and a treasure to us all.  Now we are left mostly with questions and the need for healing.  Her children especially are left with many questions, questions that they will have to accept as unanswerable.  But they rejoice to be united again with their father in his loving care.

My main point in sharing this is that in Christ such sad and disheartening things are washed away so that true unity and joy and comfort and peace and stability are restored to us both as individuals and families, and yes, even as communities and societies.  The disintegration that we observe around us matches the disintegration of the churches.  When the churches stood as one in the one true faith, true concord and harmony were the observed way.  This is clearly demonstrated by the accounting given by Luke in the book of Acts.  As long as the preaching of the cross was embraced without adulteration and Baptism and the Holy Communion were administered without alteration from what the Lord instituted, God’s peace that surpasses all understanding was enjoyed by all.  But wherever human understanding was pursued in place of the faith worked through the ordained means of grace, the peace of God is lost through the ensuing disintegration of our own heresies (opinions and interpretations).

My family is facing a great loss, both through the death of our dear Kimberly, and through the death of our family.  Our family died quite some time before this death extended to Kimberly personally.  But Kimberly was baptized into the name of the Lord and His holiness and the Holy Spirit was poured out to her in accord with God’s promise concerning Baptism.  Thus we have hope that she was yet kept safe in God’s grace by His never ending mercy.

Moreover, there is yet hope for the family and for all of the families of the earth.  God’s Church on earth is still standing, even if found in the gathering of two or three to the pure means of grace.  God’s pure Word and Sacraments are the hope of the world, as He comes to us and gives Himself to us and with Himself, all of the blessings of heaven and everlasting life.  While the church bodies refuse to repent and be turned back again to the one true way, the Church continues to be gathered by the Holy Spirit and kept together with Jesus Christ in His one true faith.

This is truly good news or Gospel.  This is the true hope for the world.  This is where true peace and concord are found and enjoyed.  Through this families are restored, no matter how badly they have been shattered.  Through this communities are brought together to rejoice in God’s goodness.  No matter what else occurs around us, the Lord is faithful to His promises and He does work His miracles for us through His Church on earth and the means ordained for her use and administration to her children.  Through this, troubling news is transformed to truly good news of peace and hope and joy.

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1 comment:

Gary Cepek said...


Our prayers go out for you and your family to the Triune God whose mercies endure forever.

When He says that His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts, we hear of separation. But graciously His words do not stop there; for His Word never returns to Him empty, but accomplishes the purposes and ends for which He sent it into the lives of those exposed to it. Truly He is the Hidden God who reveals Himself to us only by means of His Holy Word, Holy Baptism, and Holy Communion.

The tragedies which have afflicted your family, which you wrote about, we cannot begin to comprehend. Yet because He makes all things work together for good, for those who love Him, whom He has called according to His purpose, we can go before Him with hope and plead for His merciful intercession on behalf of those whose times of grace still endure. And we can be sure that His will was done as you testified to His truth to her whose time of grace has ended.

We ask Him to give you and yours His strength, the strength which endures because it flows from the redemption achieved by Christ and distributed by His Spirit so graciously.

Yours in Christ,

Gary Cepek