The Brig - June 2023

The Brig - June 2023

A Word From The Minister....

The Sun Also Rises

This is the title from one of my favourite novels by Ernest Hemmingway. He takes the title from a verse in Ecclesiastes, which considers the seemingly endless cycle of sunrise and sunset, pondering what it all means. Are we here to simply exist under the cycle of days, or can we do something during that time that has lasting meaning?

We rightly adore the glory seen in a spectacular sunrise or sunset. In Christianity we connect it to the goodness, beauty and wisdom of our creator. And, in some ways, I think this practice can help us to take a thankful approach for the lives of people who turn out to be such a gift to our souls.

This week I am mourning the loss of two such lives. On one weekend in May, two great men of faith went home to be with the Lord. One was Dr Tim Keller, the former pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. If you spend much time listening to me preach you'll know I'm fond of quoting him, or alluding to his thoughts. Dr Keller for me helped bridge the world of the Bible and theology to the challenges and opportunities of today's culture. He was a preacher who thought like a philosopher, always shaping his preaching to deal with the big questions people have today. That approach has been a huge influence on me, as I do my best to learn from such a wise man.

That same weekend we learned that Professor Donald Macleod, formerly of the Free Church college had died. Professor Macleod, or 'Donnie Foot' as he was better known in Scotland, was an eminently gifted theologian, preacher, and writer who shaped an entire generation of Scottish preachers.

He effortlessly carried an ability to be at once profound and simple in his communication. He was quite possibly the most accomplished theologian Lewis has produced. The lasting impression he has left on me was his recent book 'Compel Them To Come In', which urges preachers to be bold and clear as they share the good news of Christ with sinners.

I never actually met either men, though I felt I knew them because of the hours I spent in their work, and being shaped by their thinking. I'm thankful to God for the media and technology that has made this possible. But I will admit, as with any death, I'm left thinking our world has lost some of its goodness, how will that be replenished? I think this is a natural void we all feel when faced with death.

As I reflect on this, I am reminded that the gospel contains an aspect of re-birth as well as death. We feel excited and overjoyed by birth, but it can be hard to find positive emotions at death. And yet, the sun setting can be just as beautiful as the sun rising. We can give thanks for the rays of light which the life we knew gave, the energy and radiance emitted during their 'few short days' as the book of Ecclesiastes says.

For those who die in the Lord we can be comforted knowing they behold 'The Son' in a way we can only imagine. And in real sense, their work, fruitfulness and love can continue, and be renewed as it impacts new hearts and lives. The sun setting on a good life is a time to feel loss, but also give thanks, and place our hope in the God of resurrection for : 'The Sun also rises...' Ecc 1:5

The Brig - June 2023 Edition

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