The late Rev. Dr. John Claypool, one of America’s finest preachers, served right here in the city of Birmingham as the senior rector at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church. When he was at the peak of his ministerial career he lost his six-year-old daughter, Laura Lou, to a battle with leukemia.
In his book Tracks of a Fellow Struggler, he described how one evening while he was sitting alone in silence and filled with hopelessness and misery, he realized that he could either spend the rest of his life mourning the loss of his daughter whom he would never see grow up, graduate and get married, or he could look back in joy and say, “Thank you, God, for the gift of my daughter Laura Lou and the six best years of my life.”
Dr. Claypool chose the latter. He chose to trust God in spite of everything! Do you believe in a God who loves you and has promised never to forsake you? Do you believe that, however dark the storm clouds may be, behind those clouds, the sun of God’s grace still shines? Do you believe that beyond every cross, there is an empty tomb? If you do, you can weather the storms of life, no matter how severe. If you struggle with this, you have come to the right place.
This coming Sunday as I continue my summer sermon series Hymns My Mama Taught Me, we will consider Charles Albert Tindley’s famous spiritual “Stand By Me.” And in the process, I hope we can gain a clearer understanding of the many mysterious ways that God stands by us through the adversities of life!
Finally, just let me express my sincere appreciation for all of you who made the kickoff of the 2018 Summer Institute of Religious Studies so meaningful. I know that you could be other places and that you have busy, demanding lives, but I am blessed that you would spend your evening with me in a time of intensive, investigative scholarship. There is space for you, so join me tonight for the second session as we consider the alternative faith perspective known as Christian Science. If you registered for dinner, that starts at 5:00 p.m. followed by the study at 6:30 p.m., both of which are in Asbury’s Christian Life Center gym. There will be ambassadors to greet you and give you directions. Childcare is provided.
Have a great week!
P.S. If you did not register for dinner tonight but would like to come next week, you can make reservations on my Summer Institute page, register at the dinner desk on Wednesdays, or call our church office. Chef Bill needs to have reservations by Monday at noon to prepare. On the same web page, you will also find a podcast link to listen to each session online. We plan to make podcasts of each session available by the following Tuesday for those of you who could not attend or just want to review what we talked about.