Tuesday of Holy Week

Jeremiah 15:10-21


Richard did not seek or live in the limelight. He was one of those hardworking men, who quietly do the next right thing for their family, their friends, and their churches. Most people never see the things that men like Richard do. No one sounds a trumpet for them as they enter a room. Their names and faces are familiar to many, but matching the name and the face doesn’t always happen. These are quiet, real men.

Among the popular lies told by the prevailing wind these days is the phrase “toxic masculinity.” As a result of this nonsense, young boys don’t know how to be real men. If you wonder why you have guys still living in their mom’s metaphoric basements in their 20s and 30s, smoking pot, watching porn, and playing video games, it’s because there haven’t been real men stepping up to show them how. Last night at this writing, my oldest son, now 49, was recalling when I told him it was time to grow up. He said, “I didn’t want to go to the Marines, but, then, I found out I liked it. Then, my little brother and my daughter both had to learn they needed to grow up and joined the Navy.” He said, “We all need discipline and structure.” All of this was a precursor to his saying that he was getting ready to drive his 20-year-old son to join the Navy. I’m smiling.

Richard was a doctor’s son. He did his mandatory military service, which is something long overdue for us to reinstate… but not for indoctrination into “wokeness.” You must not hate the country where God has placed you. If you do, then immigrate to one you can love. So, it wasn’t the way he made a living, but Richard’s real love was flying. He taught so many people over the decades how to fly. As he got frailer as a result of a degenerative disease, he was still teaching “ground school.” Even when he was dying, Richard studied hard to renew his license in the hope yet to be able to teach new folks the joy of flying.

Richard always had a set of tools in his truck. He would do anything for anyone and anytime. But when Richard did things, he did them his way: slowly. As we were planning his funeral, his wife Kay said: “He even boiled water slowly.” For many years, Richard cleaned, repaired, and maintained the baptismal font. His buddy Ed and he, Saturday night stalwarts, did everything including disassembling the font, cleaning it, running a new water line, and acquiring a new pump. It irked Richard to no end when some would put the poinsettias or lilies on the marble base around the font at Christmas and Easter. He would say, “Don’t they know those plants stain the marble? Would you please tell them not to do that?”

I can’t begin to count the number of times I pulled into the parking lot and saw Richard’s truck. I would often ask him what good work he was up to that day. He always had a project to do… and slowly.

Richard was one of the hardest working men I have known in my forty-two years as a pastor. He put a lot of living and loving, serving and sharing into the exactly 78 years he lived. He was born and died the same day on the calendar 78 years apart.

Biblical anthropology is a fancy way of saying that God made us different, male and female, in complementary bodies. More than forty years ago, ethicists were already warning, “Just because we can does not mean we ought.” The Nazis did terrible things to human bodies in the name of science. One day the Lord God will ask scientists, doctors, industrialists, and pastors, one at a time: “What were you thinking when you thought it interesting to modify genes and bodies because you could?” Both progress and evolution are human-centered religions that have done untold damage to this dying creation.

Men like Richard were old school, loving God, wives, children, grandchildren, loved ones and their church.

Thank you, Father, for Richard and all those men who aren’t confused about Whose they are and who you have called them to be as the real men you created them to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Put forty-two pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box for the poor (Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard).

Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Wilmington, NC

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.