A Mourning Person

People will usually describe themselves as either a morning or a night person.  The Lord doesn’t care for as the hymn says, “Day and night are both alike to Thee.”  Some people do, however, care.  Lord help you, and I don’t mean this in a frivolous manner if you are night pastor in morning country.  People who get up with the chickens think this is the only way to be.  But whether you’re like the morning or night you’re still a person.  It’s a different manner when it comes to being a mourning person.  These are the only kind that rightly value the ministry.

Think this is too strong to say?  Consider the last paragraph in “A Pastor’s Prayer” in The Lutheran Agenda.  It closes with a prayer to “make me daily more conscious of the great responsibilities of my high office.”  [I don’t pray this.  I pray “make me daily more conscious of the great blessings of my high office” because the responsibilities all but crush me.]  The prayer then proceeds to enumerate the great blessings of the office ending with “to comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” (Is. 61:2,3).

You can’t comfort those who aren’t mourning.  Those in Zion, or Trinity, or Bethlehem, or St. Peter, or St. John Lutheran church who don’t mourn, you can’t do a whole lot with.  Those who aren’t mourning don’t care for the oil of joy; they’re doing just fine even though in reality they are running on empty.  And what does a person want with the garment of praise if he doesn’t have the spirit of heaviness?

It seems to me that there is an implied corollary to afflict the comfortable, to give ashes for imagined beauty, the oil of sorrow to the worldly joyous, and the spirit of heaviness to those without it.  This is, of course, the purpose of the law.  Until the mourning is there what else can be done?

To those not mourning, our Gospel of life in the death of Christ can only be foolishness or the aroma of death.  Only those mourning their sins want Blood to cover them.  To the rest, that is just gross or even silly.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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