It is weird out there, is it not? I mean yesterday we celebrated the 244th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a moment in history that radically changed the course of world events. Those brave and daring colonist flexed their muscles of freedom and independence and were willing to go to war to have it. Independence Day is marked every year by great celebrations, by fireworks and parades and barbeques and picnics and concerts and baseball games and family gatherings. But not this year.

While I really think that the United States of America holds the best possibility for a good life on the globe, I’m afraid we are not impenetrable.  It’s a fine idea and the layout of checks and balances, Bill of Rights, and distribution of power seems just perfect. But, you see, human beings are not good.  So no matter how well we design a government or society, it eventually will fall apart. It’s not because the system isn’t great on paper. It’s because people generally are not only evil, but also not too bright.

I wondered: how do you get a word that means both the place from where something is mined—and the thing that is mined—as well as the prey that is pursued? Indeed, the word “quarry” has a dual etymology. The latter meaning is from the Latin word (via Anglo-French and Middle English) for the skin on which the entrails of an animal were left for the hounds that pursued it. The former meaning comes from the Latin (again by way of French and Middle English) for hewn (square) stone. Two different Middle English words converging in modern English, spelled the same.

I was able to go to church last Sunday. I do not get to do that very often. Not because of the Covid-19 terror which plagues our land or a lack of desire to attend, rather as a pastor I am usually presiding in the Divine Service, not participating as a worshipper. My “going to church” is marked as my vocation and there are only a handful of times a year where I just go to church and sit in the pew as a layperson.

Day is over. Night sometimes comes quickly. Is the short quiet dusk that scares me the most. We know it must come, we watch the sun sinking minute by minute, second by second. Breathing in the cool air of the evening, enjoying the rest descending from the heavens, admiring the vibrant colors of the closing day.

The church library is unlike any place in at church. Grandmothers bring their well-worn novels that helped them make it through the tough times. Teachers bring their trusted curriculum in hopes that someone else will benefit like they did. Mothers bring their sentimental wholesome children’s books that their babies have now outgrown. Pastors bring their overflowing resources that have gone unused on the office shelf. The church library is quickly filled with the generous donations of the faithful in hopes that someone else will love this collection written words as much as they once did.

The words of our Lord found in the 10th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel are stark and difficult words to hear. They are marked by a raw honesty about the faith, about discipleship, about what it means to be called a Christian. There is a foreboding darkness hanging over Jesus’ words in this section. It is not all sunshine and rainbows or a prosperity preacher’s Pollyanna dreams.