A Tribute to Frederick Buechner
July 11, 1926-August 15, 2022
Almost two months ago, Frederick Buechner died at the age of 96. He was a friend and a mentor. I discovered him in the Spring of 1966, when I encountered one of his first books in the The University of the South (Sewanee) Bookstore. The title was “The Magnificent Defeat” - a collection of sermons. I was hooked and have read everything he’s written since. Jane and I had the privilege of meeting him at a Christian Writers Conference at Mo-Ranch in Kerrville during the summer of 1990. I used to say to Jane, “When I ‘grow up,’ I want to write like Buechner.” He left you with many more questions than answers. He wanted you to think about the faith and to struggle with it. He wanted to make our faith part of the essence of who we are.
In his sermon, “The Magnificent Defeat,” based on Genesis 32: 22-31 … Jacob says to the mysterious stranger with whom he has wrestled during the night season, there, at the River Jabbok … “I will not let you go until you bless me!” Not a blessing he can have now by the strength of his own cunning or the force of his will, but a blessing he can have only as a gift. Buechner writes, “… power, success, happiness, as the world knows them, are his who will fight for them hard enough, but peace, love, joy are only from God.”
Here is another quote from Buechner in a sermon titled “Become like Children.” “We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us. Before we loved Him, He loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Finally, I want to end with a quote from that same book: “Unless there is peace and joy for you, there can be no peace or joy for me. We need each other! We need each other so infinitely more than we are usually apt to see or admit.”
Frederick Buechner was a faithful Christian and writer. Look him up! Well done good and faithful servant. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
The Rev. Richard "Dick" H. Elwood
Pastoral Associate
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