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This week's eNote

march 13, 2023 by Pastor chip freed

I woke up this morning with a broken heart. Yesterday, following services, we had to put down our beloved 14 year old Yellow Lab, Leea. There were a lot of tears and grief across the Freed family. John Grogan, the author of Marley & Me, wrote about his dog, saying: “It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them." We certainly felt that yesterday as the five of us gathered with her for her last hour on this earth sharing stories and pictures and saying our goodbyes.

 At our Mosaic service, Joe McHugh (husband of Pastor Terry and fellow dog-lover) came over to comfort me. I asked him, “Why do we do this to ourselves?!” We let these pets into our hearts knowing that their lives will be but for a season. Joe said something that really helped me: “Because the grief is short but the joy they bring is very long.” He was basically stating the truth found in the Bible that “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Jesus said it this way: “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me… Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn… you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy… So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:16, 20, 22). Our Teaching Series for Lent and Easter is “Easter on the Margins” from Luke’s Gospel sharing how Jesus brought the truth of Easter to unlikely people in unlikely places. Yesterday he showed up at an unlikely place – a Veterinary Emergency Hospital and whispered again, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Along my journey of ministry, I have been asked by grieving children whether or not dogs go to heaven. I could have gone all theological with them citing creation and the fact that it was God who created them in the first place. I could have advised them that Jesus said that God attends the funerals of every fallen sparrow. I could have instructed them that God told Jonah that he spared Nineveh by saying, “Should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’ (Jonah 4:11). Rather I always said something like the following:

“My Yellow Lab, Leea, never says a harsh word to me. She doesn’t gossip. She doesn’t judge. She is always glad to see me and is so kind to me even when I don’t deserve it. She makes my bad days more tolerable. She is loyal to a fault and loves me, often more than I love me. She is the most Christian person in the house! If she doesn’t get into heaven, I don’t have a chance.” I also told those children it was O.K. to cry because “if it matters to you, it matters to God.” Today, I’m awfully glad I said that. Oh how we need Easter every day of our lives… even “on the margins.”