April 16, 2014

In Christ the Bottom Holds

This is the week that Christ dies for us, which can obscure the reality that Jesus lives for us. This life is made holy by Jesus' presence. Through Christ, God has sung songs, danced at weddings, wept at a friend's grave, been put on trial, and prayed for deliverance. Through Christ, God knows the cool wetness of rivers like the Jordan and the warmth of his mother's loving embrace.

This Holy Week, through Christ, God knows what it is to be betrayed, abandoned, arrested, imprisoned, beaten, and what it is to suffer and be murdered. Christ is there with us, sharing our joys and sorrows along with us and nothing is too great for Christ's shoulders to bear, because these shoulders have already borne the Sin of the world. Christ is with us in our highs, lows, and every place in between.

I don't know where the bottom is for you. Maybe early in your life, when your father died unexpectedly. Maybe yet to come, losing a battle to cancer. Maybe a terrible divorce, a failure of nerve, or betrayal of a friend. Maybe a life of extended hardships and brokenness, never being able to make things better. I don't know where the bottom is for you, but I know this: Christ is there. In pain, in sorrow, in loss, in betrayal, and even in death: Christ is there. Even at the bottom, Christ is there redeeming the seemingly irredeemable and reconciling the seemingly irreconcilable.

In these posts, I usually tell stories about Southside Abbey. Today I share someone else's story. Time, geography, and Dean Trotter's great-niece have given me permission to share it.

Jess Trotter was Dean of the Virginia Seminary in the 1950s & 1960s, beloved by students and faculty. He, his wife and their teenage son lived in a house on the Seminary grounds, near the chapel, where Dean Trotter was always present at “Good Ol' Morning Prayer.”

Battling depression, the Trotters' son succumbed to the terminal symptom of that disease and took his own life in the house so near the seminary chapel. For days following, Dean Trotter came to chapel services and said nothing. Days turned into weeks. He was present for chapel services, and still he said nothing – participating in the service as much as his heart would allow – hearing the healing words, even if unable to utter them. Dean Trotter lost weight and his health declined.

Weeks turned into months and still no words from Dean Trotter. One day at the end of Good Ol' Morning Prayer, Dean Trotter stood up, climbed the steps into the pulpit and addressed his congregation. The chapel knew sheer silence as he spoke . . .

“I have seen the bottom and Christ is there and in Christ the bottom holds.”

I don't know where you bottom is – maybe early in your life; maybe yet to come; or maybe right now – know that Christ has been there, is there now, and will be there, making even the depths of our lives holy with his very presence. This Holy Week we see the bottom and we are not surprised to find that Christ is there and in Christ the bottom holds.