Several months back I was honored by a request to write the feature story for PBU Today, the quarterly magazine of my alma mater. The article, “Unless You Have Utterly Rejected Us,” is published in the Winter 2011 edition and is available on the web here. I haven’t received my print copy of PBU Today yet, but the layout on the website is very beautiful–I’m sure Carrie Givens is behind it.
This article is based on my research on the book of Lamentations and on my recent presentation at PBU’s Agora Conference. The theme of the conference was “Heart, Soul and Mind,” and focused on the health and healing of our inner selves. In my presentation and my essay, I attempted to draw out a few things the book of Lamentations can teach us about suffering, comfort and healing.
Little did I or the editorial staff know that this article would be arriving in thousands of homes this week, a week of mourning for the PBU family. On Thursday, December 1, Dr. Samuel Hsu, Distinguished Professor of Music and Chair of Keyboard studies, was struck by a car outside his Philadelphia home and rushed to the hospital with fatal injuries. He died the next day, and services were held this week at Tenth Presbyterian Church, where he was a ruling elder.
Dr. Hsu was a pillar of PBU, perhaps the most intelligent and talented person ever associated with the school. PBU has posted many moving tributes detailing his life, his ministry, and his enduring contributions to the school here. His former student and current colleague, Kile Smith, wrote a wonderful tribute here.
I was not a music major at PBU, but I knew Dr. Hsu moderately well through his involvement with the Honors Program and through my many friends (and wife) who were music majors. He was involved in my sister’s wedding, since he was a close friend and mentor of my brother-in-law. We also had many mutual friends through Westminster, Tenth, and the PCA.
Dr. Hsu always had a kind and encouraging word for everyone. If anyone had a right to boast of intellect and ability, it would have been him–yet he perpetually reflected the humility and deference of a true servant of Christ. I remember quite a few conversations with him on the train after long days at school. We would talk about travels, friends, Scripture, philosophy, anything–then I would disembark at Jenkintown while he continued on to Center City.
As the PBU family–all of us Dr. Hsu’s children in some sense–mourns his death, we look with pain and expectation to the resurrection. Between now and then, we will miss him, and many others whom we have lost and will yet lose. Yet YHWH loses none who call upon him. He sees the suffering of his children, and hears the groaning of the broken world that he created good–and he grieves with us.