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then

When life’s hopes become dust
And fondest dreams are crushed
When calm becomes a storm
And pain is the daily norm
When hope of recovery dies
At that moment when we realize
There is no way to reverse
The harsh effects of the curse
What then?

Then faith must overcome sight
Then a spark must light up the night
Then hope must swallow up despair
And from the darkness, we declare
That our glorious Redeemer is alive
And we can do more than just survive
For as He was raised from the grave
So this body will also be raised
Then.

(Dedicated to Bob Hlavacek, July 21, 2013)

victory

In the darkness before the dawn
When it seemed all hope was gone
In Golgotha’s aftermath
The strong smell of death
The strong sense of doom
From inside a cold, dark tomb
Yet new life is exhumed
Like a fertile womb
Like a flower’s bloom
Bursting forth uninhibited
Our captive souls riveted
On this monumental event
As hope replaces lament
Jesus is alive and present

Here broken sinners find refuge
From sin’s torrent and deluge
From death’s grip
From each guilt trip
That squeezes life’s breath
That proclaims God’s wrath
Saying I’m not worthy
Of redemptive mercy

Ah, but the empty tomb disagrees
It promises and guarantees
That though this body will face death
These lungs will breathe their last breath
That is not the end
Since Jesus rose again
We too will arise
As one baptized
Into death and the grave
Beneath its cold wave
From this cold cave
Raised up no longer a slave

In the culmination of history
When dishonor turns to glory
The empty tomb cries, “Victory!”
Sin and death have been defeated
The redeemed of God are now seated
With Him in heavenly places
Free of sin and its disgraces
The slain Lamb of God is alive
And hope once dead is now revived

For our life is bound up in His
Rescued from out of the abyss
Redeemed and called His own
Redeemed and no longer alone
Redeemed and no longer dead in sin
Resurrected to new life in Him

Hallelujah, He is risen!

arise

In this bright season of spring
When flowers bloom and birds sing
And new life is flourishing
Death and loss seem more stark
Life’s routine has lost its spark
And the day just seems more dark 

Here in this pain
Here in this grief
Emotions drain
Death like a thief
Has ripped from our feeble clutch
One who loved and is loved so much 

Here in these shadows dim
We do not grieve for him
For he is free and whole
But we mourn for the hole
Left in our wounded soul 

When will this pain subside?
When will these tear ducts dry? 

But death and the grave will not prevail
The resurrection promise will not fail
God knows the sharp pain of loss
For the Author of life died on the cross
But Jesus cannot be held by death and the grave
He rolled the stone from that cold dark cave
And stepped forth alive
Resurrected and revived 

And so those who have gone on before
Preceding us through death’s dark door
Will also rise has Christ has risen
No longer held in the grave’s prison
Our hope and faith is anchored in this truth
As Jesus has risen, we will arise too
The resurrection brings hope in this pain
This deep stabbing grief shall not be in vain
For we trust in our God that loss becomes gain
And we shall see our loved ones again

 

For the Mauger family upon the loss of Channing
March 26, 2013

graveside

Kneeling here by this cold graveside,
Emotions like the swelling tide,
Rising with no reprieve or relief,
Threatening to drown me in this grief,
Beneath me lies an empty jar of clay,
Gone way too soon, taken away.
The cold January overcast sky,
Reflecting my spirit’s deepest sigh,
Leafless trees reach toward the skies
Like my prayers and silent cries,
Songbirds flit from tree to tree
Free of the emotions that trouble me.
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed,
How long will this dull ache last?
The whole world seems out of tune,
My only comfort, I’ll see you soon.

Oh Death

Oh death, where is your sting?
Here, in this room,
Here, in this gloom,
My choking voice unable to sing
Even the simplest tune.

Oh grave, where is your victory?
Here, in this moment,
Here, in this lament,
You have your time of perverse glory,
Of turmoil and torment.

Ah, but death and grave, your reveling
Is only fleeting,
You are retreating
Before the power and the blood of the King,
You are defeated.

Jesus, the author and giver of breath
Has felt your despair,
Trapped in your snare,
Yet He rose the Victor over the grave and death,
An inheritance we share.

Oh death, your sting is but a moment
Yes, you bring pain
Yes, it will remain
But only for now, only for the present,
For our risen Savior reigns.

And the day is coming like the sunrise,
Unfettered souls will soar,
Your sting will be felt no more,
Jesus will wipe each tear from our eyes,
And all will be restored.

 

(Dedicated to the Wise family upon the passing of our dear brother Tom)

Immanuel

Immanuel, God with us.
In this world of dust and rust,
When storms swarm and winds gust
I sometimes find it hard to trust
In Immanuel, God with us

In this season of joy and song
Loss and grief can feel most strong
Yet Immanuel means we belong
To a love that is eternal lifelong
God’s presence brings joy and song

Jesus knows each joy, each pain
Each easy smile and each strain
Each crushing loss and each gain
Immanuel means He will remain
Here with us in our joy and pain

This wonderful truth of Immanuel
God has come and He will dwell
Inside this fragile earthly shell
Bringing life and love to compel
Us to tell the good news of Immanuel

Immanuel, here in our sin and shame
Immanuel, more than just a name
God with us to restore and reclaim
Never to leave us alone or the same
God with us in our sin and shame

Immanuel means hope and peace
Though trials may grow and pains increase
Though fears and sorrows may not cease
His presence brings relief and release
Immanuel brings hope and peace

loss

Hurt and pain are all around us,
Aching hearts,
Tears run dry.
Life’s trials so oft confound us,
Love departs
Without goodbye.

And here we sit in this conflict
Of loss and grief
This sting of death,
From our lives and hearts ripped
Time too brief,
Robbed of breath. 

There are no words to ease this ache,
This empty place,
This gaping hole.
There is no bandage to heal this break,
This lost embrace,
This fractured soul. 

Yet wordlessly the Savior finds us
Here in this loss,
Here is this pain.
His arms of grace hold and bind us
He whispers soft,
“Trust me again.”

My heart wants to trust and hope,
To find faith,
To find belief.
But it takes all my strength just to cope
In this place,
In this grief. 

Lord, hold me just a little longer,
Please just stay,
Do not let go.
In my groaning, prove you’re stronger,
Than my dismay,
Than this crushing blow.

 

Dedicated to Roman and Jenn Bussetti
(upon the loss of baby Roman)

fate

Here and now, in this space and time,
In the presence of love sublime,
I quietly wait.
I hear the soft voice of love divine
Saying, “I am yours and you are mine.”
This is my blessed fate.

rock

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer;
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior
My God is my rock, my secure haven,
My shield and the horn of my salvation.
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be the Savior of His flock! 

In my distress I called to the Most High
I called out to my God with tears
My desperate plea came to his ears.
From his temple he heard my cry

He reached down and He took hold of me;
He drew me out of my deep disgrace
He brought me into a spacious place;
He rescued me for He delighted in me. 

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer;
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior
My God is my rock, my secure haven,
My shield and the horn of my salvation.
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be the Savior of His flock! 

As for God, His way is perfect and sure
His word is trustworthy and true
His presence will revive and renew
For who is God besides the LORD?

It is God who arms me with His might
It is He who keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like those of a deer;
And causes me to stand on the heights.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer;
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my Savior
My God is my rock, my secure haven,
My shield and the horn of my salvation.
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be the Savior of His flock!

Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing your praises, O God of my salvation

(From 2 Samuel 22)

imperishable

Flesh and blood has no merit
In itself to inherit
The imperishable kingdom of God.
But listen to this mystery,
The eternal King of glory
Has purchased us with his own blood.

We will not all sleep
In graves dark and deep,
Passing through death’s portal.
But this flesh, fallen and faltered
Will be gloriously altered,
Raised in life immortal.

The trump of God will sound,
The dead raised from the ground,
Imperishable forever and ever.
Death will be swallowed up in victory,
Conquered by the King of glory,
A bond that cannot be severed.

Thanks be to God!
He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(from 1 Corinthians 15.50-57)

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