Friday, September 29, 2006

The Bulletin Eulogy

This is the eulogy printed on the back of the church bulletin.

NOVEMBER 20, 1932 – SEPTEMBER 24, 2006

Beloved wife, sister, mother and grandmother, Christel passed away peacefully at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton on Sunday, September 24th, 2006. She was in her 74th year and had lived on Bedford Road, in Guelph Township, for almost 50 years.
She is survived by her loving husband Gerhard Krause, children Claudia and Ralph Van Riesen of Guelph, Michael and Brigitte Krause of Thornhill, Dorothea and Michael LeBlanc of Halifax, Andreas and Luisa Krause of Guelph, and nine grandchildren: Christel, Daniel, Aaron, Matthew, Jared, Kirstyn, Abigail, Joshua and Andrea. She was also affectionately regarded by her brother-in-law Gunter and his late wife Barbara Louise Krause. She is also survived by siblings Hella, Georg, Renate, Joachim and Karin, all of Germany, and was predeceased by her parents, and siblings Reinhard, Hildegard and Willi.
Born Christel Bergemann in Greifenhagen, Germany, she was married to Gerhard on November 18, 1952. At the age of 22 years, she travelled to Canada with her 10-month-old firstborn (Claudia) aboard the ocean liner Arosa Sun to meet up with Gerhard, who had gone ahead to prepare accommodation. Two more children came in quick succession (Michael, 1956 and Dorothea, 1957) along with a house of their own on Bedford Road. Christel was so devoted to and supportive of her husband Gerhard and her life was invested in raising her children and transforming a pre-WWI bungalow into a home. She was a great cook and a proficient seamstress. After the birth of her fourth child (Andreas, 1964) she spent some years working for ITT, a Guelph electronics firm, and even ran her own business for a time. She was a gentle listener, and a woman of deep faith and prayer. All of her children and grandchildren have followed her example and have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord.
Known for her beautiful alto voice, Christel participated in several choirs over the years. More recently, she enjoyed painting classes at the Evergreen Centre and always looked forward to Prime Time get-togethers at Crestwicke Baptist Church. She was an avid gardener throughout her married life, and continued to tend her flowers even while confined to a wheelchair. Not long ago, she dreamed of warm sunny days as a young girl, when she would love to run through fields of wild flowers.
Christel loved Jesus Christ with all her heart and was an example of patience, gentleness and endurance to all who knew her. She loved to worship while playing hymns or choruses on her keyboard at home. Her favourite tune was “Count your blessings, name them one by one…” She was a blessing to so many with her sweet and gentle way, was greatly loved and will be deeply missed.

The Funeral

The funeral was yesterday and it went really well - if a funeral can go well. I made it through without completely breaking down and I could sense the prayers coming my way. My former pastor came as did a number of our congregation from Thornhill. My daughter sang and there wasn't a dry eye in the house (including mine). My sister's father-in-law and brother-in-law (nominal Catholics) were there (they also lost wife/mother earlier this year). My sister said it was exactly right for them.

My dad said, considering the circumstances, it was a perfect day - everything he wanted from the day. It was less difficult than I thought it would be but I think the main reason is that I was sure I'd heard from God what to speak about. And hope about where my mother is right now was really more like absolute certainty. It was so easy to speak well of my mother - she was a kind and gentle woman and everyone who met her liked her.

I'm very glad I did the service. It helped me to express how I felt. I know I would have been frustrated and disappointed if someone else had done it - especially looking back on the event. I'm going to put the the printed eulogy from the church bulletin into the next post.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

God Speaking

Sometime you really wonder if God is speaking a message in the specific events of our lives. This has been a year of funerals - for our family at least. In February my sister's mother-in-law passed away after a long battle with cancer. A week later my aunt passed away from pneumonia. Then in March my uncle passed away in Germany (he was 81) and in August my grandmother died at 95. And then on Sunday my mother passed away. She was only 73. Although I've still not processed it all, I'm kind of happy for her. She had been in a great deal of pain. More than anyone really knew (except maybe for my dad - and he certainly didn't say much about it). But now she is with Jesus and with those who have gone before.

Jesus seems quite near to me during this time and I had a half-asleep dream about my mother walking in heaven with Jesus listening to Him as He spoke. I sensed He was telling her of how He was taking care of all of us who remain here. I feel like I'd been given me some clear direction for the funeral on Thursday.

EDIT: Another death! On Wednesday my wife's aunt died in Germany. She was 80. Her parents are heading over there for the funeral.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Some Sad News

Well Sunday morning during church my mother passed away. ( EDIT: I should have said that we got news during our Sunday morning service that my mothr had passed away. She was in hospital in Hamilton.) Being a housechurch, it put an end to the planned agenda for the day and everyone dispersed into small groups and prayed and talked while I went to make some phone calls to my siblings to inform and to find information.

My mother, Christel Krause passed away somewhat unexpectedly on Sunday morning and we got the news during our morning service at Hills. She was 73. Although her passing was unexpected, she had been having a number of health problems and was in a significant amount of pain. About six years ago she began having serious kidney problems and needed to begin a special type of dialysis (which could be done at home). This caused some circulation problems and a cut on her foot refused to heal to the point where her leg needed to be amputated below the knee. Dialysis was increased to three times a week at the dialysis clinic in Guelph - and then more recently four times a week.

She had gone into St. Joseph's Hospital this past Friday (September 22) for thyroid surgery. This was undertaken to try to reduce the calcium buildups in the stump area of her leg which caused her a great deal of pain and made wearing a prosthesis next to impossible. Although the surgery went well and she was quite chipper on Saturday, her blood pressure increased rapidly early Sunday morning and caused severe breathing difficulties. We believe her heart failed and she passed away at around 7:30am.

We have finalized the details for the funeral. The visitation will be on Wednesday, September 27th from 2-4pm and 7-9pm at the Wall-Custance Funeral Home, 206 Norfolk Street, Guelph, Ontario N1H 4K3. The funeral itself will be held on Thursday, September 28th at 1:30pm at Crestwicke Baptist Church.

My father has asked me to conduct the funeral service - which I consider an honour - but I will need lots of prayer and a kleenex box or two. Brigitte will be playing piano and Kirstyn is going to sing and Jared will be one of the pallbearers. This is especially tough on my dad so please pray for him.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Buddy Joe

Here's my buddy Joe Manafo speaking at the Cultivate Learning Party. Cool guy.

This Sunday

Tomorrow at Hills Church we continue to experiment with "hearing from God." Our guests will be Mary and Rob Lee from Acts Fellowhip. They were with us two weeks agao and gave us something to think about. The biggest thing was to recognize that God is talking to us all the time. We don't always have ears to hear nor the propensity to listen. The other thing is that it seems that we expect the voice of God to be booming and sound like he does in that Bill Cosby comedy sketch about Noah. Instead it's usually "a still small voice" that sounds a whole lot like the thoughts that flow through our minds. We are going to try to listen "out loud" with each other.

This can be a bit intimidating for some and I've been doing some emailing to describe what it's like. I quoted a portion below ...

As for "part two", I've had a few conversations with a couple of others about that (listening to God corporately) - some excited and some anxious. The conversations I've had reveal many of our preconceived ideas about hearing from God. I think we have tended to over spiritualize it so that we can't relax and see it as a natural part of our lives. I think God is talking to us all the time - about ourselves, about others around us, about our situations, and has been since we were born. Much greater clarity comes when we get born again because His Spirit takes up residence in our hearts. The difficulty is that we haven't learned to distinguish between our thoughts and His thoughts - because many times at first glance (so to speak) they both sound the same. It's the training of opening our ears and pressing in and listening intently that helps us discern the difference.

We actually do this all the time when we pray in small groups. How do you know what to pray for? People don't usually give really specific prayer requests outlining what to pray for. We actually listen to God as we pray and then pray out what we hear. (Granted we can just go through the motions and mimic other prayers that we have heard but that's not exciting or rewarding.) I've heard you pray and I know (and so does everyone else that hears you) that at certain times as you pray for someone, you have really heard from God. Others have done it too and we all know that the prayer came from God. Those are the powerful prayers. Unfortunately they are too few and far between and the reason is that sometimes we just go through the motions (me included) instead of taking some time and effort to ask God "Father, how do you want us to pray about this?" and then listen for a bit.

This learning to listen to God is actually very much like the "small group prayer" thing, except that we separate out the process to identify what we are actually doing. For example if someone asked for prayer for "a friend" what would I do? I would think about that person, picturing him in my mind and think about what he might be going through. I would focus on God, thinking "spiritual" thoughts maybe asking Him how I should pray. Then I would begin to pray while listening to God for what to pray. I would start with what I know (pray blessing and comfort and guidance) all the while searching in my heart/spirit for that insight that God almost always brings as I pray. Then I get an impression or picture of what to pray. So then I pray in response to the picture. My prayer would be describing the picture and praying God's presence into that situation to bring hope, future, healing, release - whatever. So the picture is God speaking to me and my prayer response is me talking with God.

That's what I think Rob was trying to communicate as he shared the pictures and impressions that he got. But really, they all started with a simple picture or image or impression and then he prayed or spoke into that picture. When we learn how to see and hear, it helps us in our prayer life, it helps in our exhortation of one another. I think it really helps in evangelism if we can discern the stuff God is saying to us as we interact with those who are coming to know God. The timing and method of delivery will require both sensitivity and courage but that can also be learned.

I was hoping that "part two" would be a non-threatening way of practicing how to hear from God. I've done that exercise before and it is easy and enjoyable. It's especially interesting in a group of people you have never met before because some of the stuff is right on. What normally happens is that we start by just sharing one word or one image that comes to our mind about someone else.

Hope that helps a bit and I hope I'm not just rambling and answering questions that you aren't asking.

First Post

I'm starting to blog again. It seems I start and stop. But I did want to begin keeping some records of the journey. We continue to explore what a house church looks like in a culture that seems to value big buildings and large crowds. I really enjoy the interaction and yet feel that more is in store for us.
Last month I was at an one day emerging church gathering called Cultivate and reconnected with some old friends and made some new ones. I was one of the oldest guys there. It seems that there are a lot of excited younger leaders taking some risks and exploring some neat ideas. I reconnected with Joe Manafo who is heading up The Story in Sarnia - a very interesting church plant. He does some neat stuff with video and has lots of energy. I want to continue to touch base with him.

I'm still experimenting with formatting so some of the links may not be appearing as they should.

EDIT I hope I fixed the links.