I saw you the other day as I walked by,
a faded graduation photo on the dashboard of a truck that no longer runs.
Covered now in grime and droppings and moss, the truck was yours
— back when you were — a father’s gift to his oldest son.

You are forever 18, not 30 as you now should be.
The smile on your photo speaks promises of maturation to come,
of college and career and who knows the rest?
We are robbed of the chance to know and see.

The photo and memories are all that’s left, and is.
And my memories, like your dashboard photo, have begun to fade.
It is too painful to me – still — to keep them alive and fresh.
Time lessens, but does not make the sorrow flee.

I no longer think of you each and every day.
Perhaps I’m unaware when pondering you, yet I doubt this is still so.
Remembrances are now confined only to significant days,
Like this, the 30th anniversary of your birth.

My memories of you have faded along with your photo.
Not eroded by bright sun and heat, but only the dim passage of time.
I strain to recall your voice and laugh and stride, your mannerisms and way.
It puzzles and worries me how this could be?

Events and places and happenings are there, the “Do you remember when?”
I remember them all, happy times as well as the challenges we faced.
Memories of this kind won’t help me recall the little subtleties
— the parts which made you, you — and you alone.

Memories of these precious peculiar things, like your photo, have grown faint.
Perhaps it must be so, for the living to leave behind their dead.
Yours is the heavenly cloud of witnesses above; we move on, laboring below bereft.
Less well remembered now, you will never be forgotten by me.

Happy birthday, my Tim.

[This is revised version of a poem I posted on Face Book yesterday in remembrance of my son Tim. I post it here because losing memory of some of the unique personal aspects of those we have lost is an issue many of us face.] Sorry for the small font, I had to do so to preserve the structure of the poem.

The Church Always Reforming
Next Tuesday, October 31st marks the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Martin Luther and the other reformers sought to correct some of the excesses going on in the Church in both theology and practice, and their movement became the Protestant Reformation. I am not into Catholic bashing by any means, but it is clear the Church at that time was corrupt and in need of correction.

The sad part is it resulted in the second major split within the Church. The first occurred with the Great Schism in 1054, separating the Church into west and east. The Orthodox Churches are a product of the eastern part of that split, what is now the Roman Catholic Church was the western portion.

The Reformation further divided the western Church into Protestants and Catholics. (Before that time, the Church was simply the Church. It is not accurate to refer to the Roman Catholic Church prior to the Reformation.)

The Reformation needed to happen, and we are a part of that. The English Church accepted the principles of the Reformation, yet retained more of what worked well in Church practice and worship than other branches of the Reformation.

Okay, too brief history lesson over…

Why is the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation important today? I will point to two important and relevant features.

The first is the five great “solas” of Reformation thought.
Sola” is Latin and simply means “only by” or “only through”. These are the five “onlys” by which we are saved. They are:
Sola Fide: by faith alone.
Sola Scriptura: by Scripture alone.
Solus Christus: through Christ alone.
Sola Gratia: by grace alone.
Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone.

We take these ideas for granted now without much thought, but they were revolutionary correctives at the time. They still speak to us today.

The second is the Reformation principle of the church always reforming.
This idea is rooted in the acknowledgement the Church is a human institution, and as such is always in need of refinement and reform through adherence to the Word of God and by the work of the Holy Spirit. In short, it acknowledges even the Church needs to repent and return to the Lord when it is in error.

We are a part of this truth as well. I believe we are in the midst of a reformation within the Anglican Communion worldwide. Things are muddled at the moment, but reformations tend to be messy things! Where matters will end, most of us may not live to see. That’s okay. Like Luther and other reformers, as Anglicans we too have taken our stand.

Finally, allow me to bring this to a personal level. In our own lives, are we able to admit to ourselves and to the Lord that we too are constantly in need of reforming? If so, this is good news, for it brings us back solely (sola) to grace and faith, and to the redeeming work of Christ our Lord.

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Church. Fill it
with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt,
purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is
amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in
want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake
of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. -Book of Common Prayer

See you Sunday!