21 March 2007

Privilege of ministry #1,387

So the patriarch of our church is dying.

He's 92 and has been suffering from Alzheimers for the last 9 months. He was taken to the hospital Monday morning and it was discovered that he suffered a heart attack and has pneumonia. The family has authorized only pain meds to be administered. Now they are just waiting for death to come.

This man is the son-in-law of the beloved pastor who was here for 47 years. The beloved pastor's daughter is 90 and still in our church. So is her daughter and their family.

When the beloved pastor (BP) retired, he tried to pass the church to this man. This man felt he couldn't do ministry as well as his father-in-law (and from what I hear, Jesus himself could have learned a thing or two from the bp), so he declined. And he always regretted it. But he was a devoted servant and led this church even without the title.

I have been with the family a lot so far this week and it is clear to me that he was also the spiritual rock of this family. His children have left his side only to force their mother to go home and go to bed, grandkids have been driving and flying in, great-grandchildren have been seen, legs impatiently swinging, in the lobby chairs at the hospital... he is very much loved.

And probably the most inspiring thing to me is that they are all very ready to let him go Home. They have a faith in Heaven that puts this pastor to shame -- such a strong belief in the glory of the Promise that they all smile through their tears. As one of his daughters said, "It's almost like we're excited for the funeral so that we can really just celebrate his new life. We need that."

I think all in my little church need a real celebration of life, too. I know I need it. It would do us good to remember that there is Life beyond us -- beyond budget woes or ministry challenges or service attendance. There is Life.

And it is just like this guy to give us this gift. He was an amazing servant in life and he'll be an inspiration even in death. I'm grateful for the opportunity to celebrate with his family. To think I get paid for this...

1 comment:

Sista Cala said...

As the Psalmist has said, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of a saint."
It is a bittersweet loss, knowing you won't see him in his pew, but so wonderful to know you will meet again.

What a blessing that his family reached a place where they were ready. That makes the aftermath easier too.