John’s Bunion or This Pilgrim’s Progress

            Having a poor visual memory is a source of considerable regret to me.  Art historians stir a profound awe in me because they need to know everything that any expert knows and in addition apply it to what they have seen.  On the three occasions in my life when I was in some danger of committing the sin of pride, I picked up Charles Cuttler’s great book, Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel and committed the sin of envy instead.  I will know for sure I am in heaven if I see Munich’s Alte Pinakothek down the golden street and receive a free ticket to visit one day a week (preferably Monday) throughout eternity. 

           These reflections are occasioned by memories of a trip to China.  Since I never remember much of what I see, I am quite content to travel by book in my trusty reading chair.  My idea of an exciting and exotic journey is from this chair to the coffee pot and back.  My lady wife, on the other hand, loved to travel.  Like John Wesley, the world is her Paris.  I attribute this love of travel to her school years in Assiut, Egypt.  For little Peggy with her family at the tiny Presbyterian mission station among the Anuak people at Akobo Post deep in Sudan, going to school every year involved a month-long, thousand mile trip by outboard motor down the Sobat River, by steamer down the River Nile, and by train across the Sahara Desert.

           Lady Margaret studied the guidebooks, researched the history, checked the internet for local weather, packed the suitcases with all things needful, and so on.  My role was to deal with the big suitcase and then follow her around carrying the camera case, the extra film, the water bottles, foreign currency, and whatever else she did not want to bother about.  Actually, I enjoy travel because I realize how wonderful it will be to get back to my long suffering and faithful chair.

            Lots of Americans have seen China’s forbidden city in the movie, “The Last Emperor.”  A few remember “55 Days in Peking” with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner and therefore know something about the Boxer Rebellion.  Younger Americans probably assume the Boxer Rebellion concerns the rejection of an underwear style.  (Lawyers, I am told, prefer briefs to boxers.)  I will not attempt to decide whether the Chinese Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists was an indigenous liberation movement, a savage civil revolt, or an early form of tai chi.

            In any event, the Boxers were aroused to murderous fury by western commercial exploitation of their country. As a result of the industrial revolution, the English found they could sell cloth in China two-thirds cheaper than it could be made locally.  So the English happily ruined the Chinese cloth industry for their own profit.  Nothing personal, just business.  Many Chinese believed that the mining activities of the foreign devils were releasing the precious breath of their mountains and the railroads being built were disturbing the benevolent dragons that lived under Chinese soil.  Perhaps modern, sophisticated Presbyterians who pay some attention to their zodiac sign will not scoff overmuch at the simple Chinese of a century ago.

            With his pen the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer also fought in the Boxer Rebellion.  I concede that the opening lines of chapter nineteen of Huckleberry Finn is the finest paragraph ever written by an American.  However, Sam Clemens took a strongly negative view of Christian faith in general.  In general, therefore, the relation of my theology to his may be fairly described as “never the twain shall meet.”  Sadly, I must agree with his protest in this event.  After the Boxer Rising was crushed, some American Christian groups coerced extravagant reparations from entirely innocent Chinese.  Mark Twain was justifiably outraged and used his considerable literary skills in vigorous and righteous denunciation of gun muzzle extortion by Christians (See North American Review Feb. & Apr. 1901).  Reformed theology has always known that even the best causes are served by sinful people.

            Mark Twain most clearly pointed out that our missionaries can be terribly misguided in some things they do. On the other hand, certain contemporary theologians insist that our missionaries are most clearly misguided in the main thing they do.  According to our sophisticated pluralists, it is erroneous to proclaim Jesus Christ as the world’s Lord and Savior because there are many paths to the sovereign God.  Faith in Jesus Christ, they say, is one path to God but only one path.  What a momentous theological difference between believing that Jesus Christ is only one path to God and believing that Jesus Christ is the only one path to God!

            For this “progressive” view to prevail, Christians will need to believe that the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt is NOT one Lord but just one God in a cozy pantheon with others.  If there are many ways to God we can cease worrying about committing the sin of idolatry because all the top gods are essentially the same at bottom.  Had Presbyterians a century ago believed that Jesus Christ is one Lord among many, none of our obedient missionaries would have died in China and no disobedient reparations would have been collected.

            The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can still save a lot of money if it disallows the claim of Jesus to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  Exclusively Christian evangelism will be replaced by pluralistically interfaith dialogue.  Presbyterians can close down their long-term worldwide mission enterprise, bring all their missionaries home, and set up a Board of World Religions to fund occasional seminars on the faith commitments of the peoples of the earth.  With all that money saved, there should be funds available to “Re-Imagine God.”  Now there’s a hoot.          

Advertisements

Belly Button Lent

With the double exception of Adam and Eve, every single human being possesses a navel. This is because we are born connected to our mother by an umbilical cord that is severed after birth and then dries up. The purpose of cutting the cord is to enable you to sleep in your own bed, although the child is later reattached to the mother by apron strings.

I know this stuff about umbilical cords because, during the birth of our final child, I was present in the delivery room giving essential aid to the doctor and the mother in their labors. Also attending were some student nurses who had never seen the father in the delivery room. I had an important responsibility for them, too. The physician made this clear in his dramatic instructions to me: “Don’t you dare faint!”

When our son was born his first action was to urinate on the doctor. Since I knew what the hospital bill was going to be, I was mightily tempted to do the same. At that moment the doctor was distracted by the new mother’s gracious invitation to bite the umbilical cord as she had seen done so many times in Africa where she grew up. However, apparently American obstetricians have bad teeth and he declined.

Since neither Adam nor Eve were born the way we are, the first navel battle occurred “east of Eden” (Genesis 3:24). This event is not described in any military history that I could find. More surprising, theological textbooks generally ignore the meaning of this mark we all carry around all our lives. Perhaps Buddhists have given navel-gazing a bad name, but mainline Christians ought to find midline reflection quite helpful in their Lenten devotions. I expect a number of eye-catching sermons will be breached using the title, “Belly Button Lent.’ Reflection might, for example, focus on this natural sign of our connection to preceding generations on the Earth. “No man is an island, entire of itself . . . I am involved in mankind” (Devotions XVII). That’s the way it is when all is said and Donne.

In Scripture a tacit contrast is very likely suggested between the skeptical and disobedient Eve and the faithful and obedient Mary. In any case, the contrast between the first and second Adam is most explicit in 1 Corinthians 15. According to this biblical typology, the first Adam leads us to sin and the second Adam leads us to salvation. Also included are the great themes of creation and redemption, the new being in Christ and the virgin birth.

The relation between Adam and Eve is husband and wife; Mary and Jesus are mother and child. For centuries Christians believed this child was the son of Mary and the only begotten Son of God. The paternity of Jesus of Nazareth is found in God the Father Almighty and in Mary was his maternity clothed. Not long ago a theological liberal could be identified by disbelief in the virgin birth. Today, of course, theological liberals are much bolder and deny the entire incarnation in all except a mythical, metaphorical sense.

The virgin birth is a complex doctrine well beyond the scope of this brief note. However, this one small point can be indicated. That Jesus was born without a human father does not teach us how different he is from us. Rather, in having a human mother, we learn how closely Jesus identifies with us. The birth of Emmanuel means that God is with us (Matthew 1:23). We are one with him and he is one with us. And, although some Presbyterians seem to have forgotten, he is one with the Father (John 10:30). John Calvin never doubted that Jesus Christ was full deity and full humanity in one person. However, Calvin also thought Christ’s humanity was double in nature. In himself our Lord was sinless; for us he became sin (2 Corinthians 5:12).


The first Adam, born without a navel, was sinless until he chose otherwise. The second Adam, conceived by the Holy Ghost, was born of the Virgin Mary attached to an umbilical cord just as you were. It’s a mark that he belongs to us and we belong to him.

The Flying Chaucer

Every body, or to be precise – every mind, needs three reading lists. The first will contain the essential books of your field. The second list will offer solid insights into and felicitous expressions of one’s individual and community interests. The third is just plain fun to read.
In the old days, before I understood my reading tastes as well as I do now, long airplane trips, especially to foreign countries, meant packing pages in each category. Eschewing checked-through luggage required carrying all these volumes on my sometimes up-standing but usually down-sitting person. I solved the problem by sewing two huge pockets on the underside of the detachable lining of my overcoat. With these crammed pockets, I could not actually wear the coat, but I successfully got the books onto the plane and into overhead storage.
Unfortunately, this brilliant scheme is not practicable for summer travel. Even without a heavy overcoat, my flashing personality looks suspicious to airport personnel. They always search me. I am considering an overture to the next General Assembly demanding for Presbyterian travelers the right to choose the security person who pats them down and the degree of thoroughness with which this action is conducted. My overture should pass unanimously since it offers Presbyterians of all persuasions the opportunity to get their jollity without publicly declaring their orientation.
Still the question remains if you found yourself on a dessert (non-sic) island, what would put icing on your cake? The answer is to select one book which functions in all three categories combining the good, the true, the beautiful and the delightful.
I recommend the translation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by David Wright. Long years ago the Chaucer course in my college was required of, and normally reserved for, upper level English majors. Apparently no previous sophomoric 19 year old non-English major had ever wanted to study Middle English and been willing to compete with the best and most mature literature students. That I was granted premature and special permission for the class was then – and remains – a matter of considerable satisfaction to me.
Doubtless, it is a serious character fault but I admit a continuing and enthusiastic admiration for Chaucer’s fabliau. However, truth to tell, reading Middle English in the wee, wee hours of an overnight flight is entirely too much like work. Therefore, a modern translation of Chaucer’s comic, frankly coarse, and often cynical poetry is a great way to be booked in the friendly skies.
For reasons imperfectly understood by me, I have always been afraid of real women oscillating somewhere between bemused fascination and complete bewilderment. In contrast, between the covers I have known and enjoyed many fictive women. If they give me trouble I turn over the page or in extreme situations I will close the book on them. Among our major poets, Chaucer is most interested in the estate of marriage, devoting seven tales to the subject. The most memorable character is Alice, Wife of Bath.
Alice’s story deals with the single question that puzzles every male person all his life, “What do women want?” The Wife of Bath has an answer of course, but I do not want to incur female trouble so I will not endorse or even report her conclusion. Curiously, at the beginning of the twentieth century scholars thought Chaucer loved women. Now they think he hated women. I would really like to hear a panel of modern women discussing the contrasts between the militant feminism of Alice, wife of Bath, and the unquestioning obedience of patient Griselda.
Meanwhile, I am willing to make my own modest contribution to the theory and practice of marriage based on years of careful observation and profound reflection. For a husband to lead a happy married life he needs only two phrases frequently employed. The first is, “Yes, my love.” The second is, “Please, dear, let it be my fault.”

A Privy Tale

Of our species the female is the most deadly. There are no black widowERs, as I have good cause to know.
Some time back, before attending a large garden party, my wife received what women call a “permanent.” The plain fact is this procedure is a “temporary”, but in any case and by whatever term, I did not like it. Thus, I asked all my friends at the party to approach my dear wife and tell her that her hair looked awful.
They did such a convincing job that she was quite dejected until she found out that I had put them up to the story. She did not say anything but, unknown to me, she made a mighty vow to repay me for my perfidy.
Three weeks later, behind the door of the smallest room in our house, I was reading a competitor’s book and tearing out the pages for dual usage. In the meantime Margaret had covered her lovely auburn tresses with a grey wig which she bought for two dollars and put on an old pair of glasses, thus becoming totally unrecognizable. Then she threw open the door, leaned her head in, and shouted, “Who the hell are you?!”
Startled out of my quiet reverie by this terrible apparition in the privacy of my privy, and assuming that my house was being invaded by Amazons, I leaped up to defend my home and hearth–whereupon this odd voice observed, “You would be better advised to remain seated.”

Pop Goes the Easel

28 October 2018
{Written on an easel positioned near the speaker is a poster board with (1) a black ” Zig”, (2) a blue “Zag” and (3) a red Pop.}

***
This reflection has three components: the first is a long Old Testament “zig.” The second is a short New Testament “zag” and the third is a concluding “pop.” I hope you will find the “zig” and “zag” interesting. If you find the “pop” offensive, we can certainly talk further since I live here, too.
Let’s zig over to the Book of Daniel, chapter 7.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand upon two feet like a man; and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, “Arise, devour much flesh.” After this I looked, and lo, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back; and the beast had four heads. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, terrible and dreadful and exceedingly strong; and it had iron teeth; it devoured, and broke in pieces, and stamped with its feet. It had ten horns and behold there came up among the ten horns a little horn in which were eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things.
These words are, and have been for many centuries, Holy Scripture, which means that every Christian needs to understand their message, including the hanging-fire issue of the date of their composition. Traditionally, the Book of Daniel was assumed to be written during the Babylonian Captivity of the 6th century BC. However, the modern scholarly consensus accepts the Maccabean period four centuries later. Curiously, only a handful of scholars are sufficiently learned to have a justifiable opinion on this topic. The rest of us who are not learned enough will have to 1) ignore the issue or 2) accept the scholarly consensus or 3) find, and choose, an expert who supports our convictional predilection.
You see the issue, of course. If the earlier date is correct, the Book of Daniel is an historical prediction, a prophesy of the future which came true. That is the traditional view. If the later date is correct, as the modern scholarly consensus holds, then the Book of Daniel describes, and interprets, events that had already occurred.
On the date of the Book of Daniel today: Divided We Stand.
Backing away from the fire and more calmly considered, we should be able to agree that the Christian Bible contains two apocalypses. The first, and most famous, is the Apocalypse of John–the New Testament book of Revelation. The second is the Book of Daniel, which contains the night visions you have just heard.
In any case, interpreting an apocalypse presents special difficulties that most ordinary Christians are unwilling, and perhaps acceptably unwilling, to engage. Additionally, many pastors who dip into the apocalypses just as quickly dip right back out. For example, I cannot imagine that an accurate identification of the four beasts of Daniel seven is a high priority for most American Christians. Nevertheless, for the record and for what it is worth, the best theory suggests the beasts refer to the empires of Babylonia, Media, Persia, and Graeco-Macedonia. For the visual learners among us something like these beasts can be seen in the Assyrian room six of the British Museum and on the magnificent Ishtar Gate of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
So much for the Old Testament zig. We resume the reading at the zag.
As I looked thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him.
Then I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Like a lion, like a bear, like a leopard. There are seven “likes” in this passage which sounds like the speech of a contemporary teenager. Here they are not verbal tics, but already mentioned important historical similes.
You have probably noticed that historically we Christians can read the ‘zig” part of this text with our Jewish friends. You have certainly noticed that theologically we cannot read the “zag” part with our Jewish friends because Christians understand the “Ancient of Days” in Trinitarian terms and the “Son of Man” in Christological terms.
You will be inordinately relieved to learn that I do not propose to discuss these central mysteries of the Christian confession in the few minutes remaining. Instead, I hope to offer a POP conclusion by way of challenge.
***
Let us pause to mark the POP. I ask you to imagine a monkey chasing a mulberry bush. Pop goes the easel. {At this juncture the speaker took in hand a bunch of explosive “Pop Pop Snappers” (available at toy stores) which being thrown at the easel demonstrated, “Pop goes the easel”.}
***
The popping point is this. Your Christian faith is based in history but it is determined by encounter. Only in part do Christians see the Messiah through historical insight. More crucial, the eyes of faith encounter the risen Christ by the mighty and miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and recognize his glory through his self-description.
The seventh chapter of Daniel refers to history, of course, but even more importantly it presents Christological reality demanding personal commitment. Obviously, both Scripture and Faith are nonnegotiable components of every Christian life. Therefore, most likely every Christian here present already knows that for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the phrase “Son of Man’ was his favorite self-description. The words “The Son of Man” appear 81 times in the canonical gospels and only in the sayings of Jesus Himself. He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:35). “The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost” (Mt. 18:11). And most clearly reflecting Daniel 7: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24: 30).
“God the Son” is a special Christological affirmation, but the phrase “Son of God”, while applied in the New Testament to Adam, Jesus, and the followers of Jesus, is also applied to (1) angels, (2) pious men, and (3) Kings of Israel. Thus, quite contrary to ordinary English usage, “Son of God” is a human title and “Son of Man” is a divine title
Once more let us sharpen two points. First, God’s chosen people who preserved and cherished the Book of Daniel historically do NOT understand the Son of Man to refer to Jesus of Nazareth. Second, Christians, who do so claim, should understand that their identification of the Son of Man is not primarily based on superior historical acumen but on personal theological encounter. Christians recognize that Jesus of Nazareth taught his disciples that the phrase applies to Him. To this day that application is debated historically pro and con between the Old and New Israel, but NOT theologically for us. For Christians the defining Messianic reality is that Jesus reached back into the history of his original people to bring this phrase forward to describe himself. In other words, Christian faith, however connected, is not anchored in historical understanding but in personal encounter with Him in whom, we live, and move, and are (Acts 17:28).
The question has always been, “Who do people say I am? And the correct answer has always been, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16: 13). Christians do not really see the seventh chapter of Daniel in the early light of the Babylonian Exile or the middle darkness of the Maccabean Rebellion. Rather, we see by the dawn of Easter Day.
In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn. 1:4-5) Jesus said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8: 12).

A Wedding Address

This message was taught on the occasion of the marriage between my tastefully named eldest son, Charles, and his lovely wife, Denise.
5.30.2010

Our marriage text for today is Ephesians 5:32 (see also Col. 3:18-25, I Pet. 3:1-7). which reads, “This is a great mystery.” “And I take it to mean Christ and the Church.” These words are embedded in a passage (verses 21-33) which forms the basis of the vows you will witness later, but in full context reads uncomfortably for us today because it reflects the very much out-of-date views of household economy taught by the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, of the 4th century B.C. (I think it is only fair to point out to Denise that her wedding is almost certainly the only one this summer to refer to Aristotle).

According to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (8:10 and Politics 1.12) household management has three parts: First, (slavery not yet abolished) the management of the slave by the master, which takes the political form of tyranny; second, the father’s rule over children, which takes the political form of monarchy (Father asking) and third, the husband’s relation to wife, which takes the political form of aristocracy. The final basis for Aristotle’s embarrassing conclusion is his conviction that, “The male is by nature fitter for command than the female.” However, he admits there are notable exceptions to this so-called order of nature. I imagine Aristotle would be astonished to find gathered in this one room so many commanding females.

In any case, these three classical definitions of household management were accepted for centuries and are not yet entirely exhausted of influence. However, the result to be observed in this passage is not the obvious Aristotelian basis of the background, but the real introduction of powerful, new themes that will shape the future. First: mutuality — “Be subject to one another.” Second: the mandate of male commitment, employing the famous verb agape. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Third, these mandates are to be followed not because of the supposed rational superiority of the male, but “out of reverence for Christ.” In short, the classical concept of the “reasonable man” (still applied in our law courts) is being replaced by the Christian concept of “loving person.”

In a sense reason is something we control; love is something that controls us. “This is a great mystery” to which the dichotomy of “universal” and “special” may be applied.

It is a universal grace that the Creator made the human creature in two kinds – “male and female created he them.” We do well to remember how wonderfully complementary and how wonderfully contrary created he them. This universal grace is universally expressed in Proverbs 30.18:

Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock.
the way of a ship on the high seas.
and the way of a man with a maiden.

I should remind Charlie the proverb just preceding that one says, “The eye that mocks a father … will be pricked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.”

The second dichotomy is a special grace associated not with the creator but the Redeemer. In the natural world there can be loveless marriages but not in the Christian community. We are commanded to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” “For this reason a man shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.”
The universal Western intellectual tradition from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Dante testifies that love makes the world go around. The special tributary to which we belong insists that faith is the mother of love, but we can all agree, “This is a great mystery,” “And we understand it to refer to its basis in Christ and the Church.”

A Tribute to My Mom

by Jonathan F. Partee

Margaret McClure Partee was born in 1935 in Khartoum, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. She spent the first 17 years of her life in Africa, coming to the United States only on her parents’ scheduled furloughs. During most of those years, the McClure children attended boarding school in Egypt, a four week canoe and Nile steamer ride from their parents’ mission station. Mom never felt entirely comfortable in the traditional role of an American girl. Before one memorable New Wilmington Missionary Conference meal, bored with the unexciting activities of the rest of the girls, Mom caught garter snakes down by the creek and give them surprising new homes in the cafeteria sugar bowls.
Mom returned to America for her senior year of high school, intending to complete her college education, a medical degree, and then return to Africa as a medical missionary. At college, she met a slick and smooth-talking young man named Charles Partee,who convinced her to do something else for which my brothers and sisters are grateful.
Mom had a life-long love for Christ’s commission, teaching us kids an abiding love and concern for the world, and especially East Africa. Mom regularly used words from various languages like Arabic, Amharic, and Hindi around the house. All of us kids, at one time or another, found ourselves on the losing end of arguments with classmates and teachers as to whether words like saket, nunga-punga, or ishee were to be found in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Although generally quiet and reserved, Mom’s upbringing and Scottish heritage made her a fierce opponent in the face of injustice. When the school district in Storm Lake, Iowa and Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania refused to follow federal law regarding handicapped children, she took them on and won both times.
Her legendary toughness, iron will, and refusal to give up affected all of us, but perhaps no one more than Dad. In the early 70’s Mom informed Dad that the roof of our house needed to be reshingled. Dad was just beginning his career as a college professor, and agreed that he would employ some roofers to take care of it. Mom, who always watched the finances, told Dad that there was not enough money to pay for materials and labor, and if he would not shingle the roof, she would. After a decade and a half of marriage, Dad knew this was no idle threat, and if he did not want his bride up on the roof for all the neighbors to see, he would have to learn quickly how to shingle . He asked enough questions of local roofers to realize what he had to do, but either Dad did not hear, or the roofers did not say, that on steep pitches beyond the reach of the latter, when you hammer a standing platform onto an inch of rotten wood, you need to nail into the joists. Needless to say, when Dad stepped on his platform it immediately pulled out of the roof and down he went, catching himself two stories above the ground by sliding into the ladder with his legs through two rungs. In this precarious position, he thought that he could recover if he could get an adult to stabilize the ladder at the ground level. Looking down he saw wide-eyed Charlie staring up at him. Dad quickly ordered, “Go! Call your Mother!” Charlie ran off, then returned and shouted up, “She said to tell you she is busy.” Mom was always busy, and regularly outworked the rest of us combined.
Although for the last 15 years Mom was hampered by the progression of Parkinson’s disease, she never complained. The most I ever heard her say about her disease was, “My stupid hand is not working today.” When Rebecca and Elizabeth were born, years after the initial diagnosis, she came out to help us and even at that time could outwork a normal human.
In the last five years, communication had become more and more difficult, and verbal communication had become rare. However, when one of us was crying beside her bed a few weeks ago, she opened her eyes and said, “Buka (buck-ah).” This is the Ethiopian word for “Enough.” I believe this to be her last instruction to us. She would not want to be excessively mourned; she was utterly confident in Christ’s promise that nothing could separate her from the love of God. She never looked backwards, ever forwards, and would entreat us to do likewise. It is now to those of us who remain to pick up these earthly burdens and carry them as courageously, as tenaciously, and as resolutely as she did.