Sunday August 29, 2010

Last Saturday as I slowly drove passed her, her expression seemed to say, “This is the longest funeral procession ever. Is it a celebrity?” She was in her vehicle pulled over on the side of the road as the local custom dictates whenever you meet a funeral procession.

But the funeral procession was for Richard, who unlike celebrities, is loved for who he was, not for whom people thought him to be. He is the father of nearly half a dozen of my former schoolmates, and he was a part of my church family.

We received the call on our church hotline that no one wants to hear. “Please pray. Richard has been taken to the hospital and they have not been able to find a heartbeat.”

No warning to the family. Just a call saying things didn’t look hopeful. Richard went to be with Jesus and his family was left to grieve his sudden departure. But not grieving as they who have no hope. His 5-year-old granddaughter is in my Sunday School and today’s lesson was on the revelation that was given to John and the hope of Heaven. I mentioned that her grandfather was with Jesus because he loved and obeyed Jesus. She said, “Grandpa is much happier in Heaven than he would be here. But it still makes us sad.” She said it with such matter-of-fact belief that once again I understood why Jesus said to have the faith of a child.

At his funeral the word used to describe Richard was faithful. He wasn’t a flamboyant person but what duties he had, he did them faithfully. He wasn’t quick to come up with an excuse to skip out on activities. He co-ordinated our nursing home schedule for years and always took care of it well. If he left for the weekend, he always made sure to take care of before he left. He also was on the cleanup crew after potluck dinners and always had the vacuum cleaner out before anyone else.

And the small church family that we have pulled together to make meals, help with funeral arrangements and everything else necessary. All hands on deck are needed and I was amazed once again how so many people willingly helped in various ways. Being on the food committee, Andrea and I helped co-ordinate several meals including the one for 320+ after the funeral. Neighbors and friends had brought in lots of food for the family.

When someone suffers a loss like this sometime’s it’s hard to know what to do to show our love and support. The best we know besides what feel like feeble words of comfort is to take care of the physical needs.

Besides food, there was hosting of out-of-town family and guests. Homes were opened up to take care of as many people as possible. Volunteers showed up to clean the homes of the family.

There were several ladies from Montezuma and 2 of my nieces who came the day of the funeral to take care of the final food prep and service so that Andrea and I could be at the funeral. This was great help and a challenge to us to look for ways of helping other small churches who are going through a similar situation.

That Tuesday evening just an hour or two before we received the call, I had been out at the lake again attempting to capture the beautiful sunset.

and the photo that is currently in my header.

It reminded me of the photos I shot last May when we just received word that a dear lady from our church had graduated to Heaven.

If this world which holds pain and suffering can contain such beauty, what does the beauty of Heaven plus the presence of Jesus look like?