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Thanks, Alfred!

June 20, 2006

Last week, I attended the funeral of a man that I met when I first became a Christian. He was the custodian of the church that held the tent revival…of which I eventually became a member. He lived a long, good life in service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so though it was sad for family and friends in the passing of this man of God, there was also much celebration for his life and the fact that he is now in heaven.

Funerals are often like family reunions. Many of the people who were in attendance, I had not seen or visited with in nearly 20 years. I loved this congregation of people and really hated having to leave them. But alas, due to circumstances of my divorce and the fact that this church was where my ex-husband grew up…it was necessary that I make the move to another church.

I rode to the funeral with old friends, who just happened to have been the pastor and wife of this church…back in the days when I first started attending. They too have spent many years away from this church family due to other assignments and life direction.

But it was still like a “homecoming” for all of us. It was great seeing all our old friends, shaking hands and hugging necks. In many instances, it was as if conversations just picked up where they had last ended. It was great. I really do love all those people so much. It’s a shame that we wait until the “passing of a saint” to reconnect. (more on that in a minute)

I am now a part of a very large congregation. These are people that I love dearly too. My friends (with whom I rode) asked me if I missed the “closeness” of a smaller congregation.

After a moment of thought, I concluded that truthfully, “No.”   There’s not much room for privacy in smaller congregations. And sometimes, it’s too small and there is no room for new people or new ideas. Sometimes, you get shut off from anything outside your “group” — good and bad. And in smaller congregations it’s very difficult to “pull away” if you need to.

But even after I answered…and even though I agree with all those thoughts…there is still so much that I hold dear as I recollect those days as a member of that smaller church. I miss those people.

And in thinking about all those days gone by…there is one thing about that time…that closeness…that community that I sorely miss. I miss walking to and from church!

That little “burg” of Delano was close-knit and just about everybody in the little “mill-town village” attended the church. (at least once in a while, or they were members on the roll).

There is a great deal of romance associated with that era of my life. I suppose it is so memorable because of the extraordinary watermark left on my heart and soul at that time. I was saved there! I had a life-changing experience…a transformation. It was incredible. It was something that I never shall, and never want to forget.

It seems a bit ironic to me now that I spend most every waking hour at church, that I could not wait to go to church during that time. I remember wishing that I could go to church more often than Sundays and Wednesdays.  There was an incredible excitement and passion that burned in my heart…and I remember, walking to church was a weekly experience that I cherished.

As I mentioned a few lines earlier, it is a shame that we wait for the passing of a friend to renew old friendships and reminisce old times. But as I was thinking about the unique experience of that funeral last week…I was reminded of how happy everyone was at the funeral home. A stranger walking in might find it odd that people were laughing, seemingly celebrating whilst a dear friend’s body lay in state at the front of the room. Thinking back about it, I thought it was a bit “disrespectful” too…for just a moment.

But then I felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting that ‘heaven will be a whole lot like that.’  WOW!  To be able to experience a slice of heaven here on earth — at a funeral, no less.

That made me appreciate the life of this dear saint even more. I knew that he was already up in heaven celebrating. And what a wonderful testimony to his life and faith. And, that we really were able to just pick up where we left off — even though it might appear that relationships, friendships and even kinships had ended…

But in God’s family…they do not end…they just move on to the next realm.

I surely don’t understand how people who have no relationship with Jesus Christ…people who do not attest to love Him and know Him…and have every hope and plan to live eternally with Him in Heaven…I don’t understand how they can exist — and then be resigned to just “cease” existing.

But I hope that, if the Lord tarries His return…and I should “die before I wake,” that my “home-going” will be much like the “home-coming” that was experienced at the funeral of my old friend, and brother in Christ, Alfred!

Thanks, Alfred… 

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