The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Ten days in Lent

In times of death, God speaks words of life

It’s Monday, and Royce is dying. His cancer has reached the final stage. Now his hollow eyes and bruised, leathery skin remind me of my own end. “From dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

Royce was inactive in the congregation, but I called on him after learning of his cancer. I visited weekly as he went through his treatments, praying with him for stamina and healing. After he decided to discontinue treatment, we prayed again—this time for his family.

TombstoneOn Monday afternoon, I received a phone call from the funeral home: Would I do a funeral for a young man killed by a state patrol officer? I had seen a brief article in the newspaper about the events but didn’t recognize the name. Pulled over on a suspected DUI, he fled ... accelerating rapidly, dragging the patrolman caught in his door. The patrolman, who feared for his life, shot him.

I was caught off guard by the phone call. Slowly recognition came. His name was Billy. He had spoken eloquently at his grandmother’s funeral the previous fall. He talked candidly of his addiction and its aftermath. Billy gave a profound and meaningful testimony to the love of a grandmother and its impact on him.

I called his father, John, to make arrangements. Of course John remembered me. We had met at his mother’s bedside in the days before she died. Now I would bury his only son.

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