Whew! What a weekend. It is hard to imagine that life has to continue after a wonderful but busy weekend like we just experienced. Yet such is the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. When He grants us those brief experiences on the mountaintop, we are always sent back down into the valleys and wildnerness to witness His calvary-like love to a lonely and dark world. In many ways, our celebration of the life of Thelma was very much a mountaintop experience. The church was packed to overflowing, brothers and sisters from all different denominations of the body of Christ attended, the choir sounded like angels singing her favorite hymn, and there was triumphant joy.
I suppose I have worried unnecessarily that we have not ministered to her family well enough. I have worried for Norm, who lost a wife, a companion, and a bit of a taskmaster. I have prayed for Steve and Stephanie who lost a mother. I have prayed for the rest of the family which has lost a sister, a grandmother, a confidant, and a friend. And I have worried for this parish community in which so many trace their involvement with St. Alban's to that remarkable lady. We have all shared our favorite stories, lamented her loss, but then rejoiced in the knowledge that she is home. Truly, there has been very little weeping or sorrow. As I was reflecting on the gospel reading she chose for us yesterday, I realized that the joy we all have felt is probably the best witness and honor we could give to her life and the best response we could give to a confused world.
The reading that Thelma chose for yesterday was all about judgment. For the rest of the world, judgment is something to be avoided and feared. For those who believe in Christ, however, judgment is a joyous occassion. There were few tears because we, as a community gathered in celebration of her life, knew that the One in whom she placed her faith is the One who has offered eternal life to us all. Her Lord is the Lord to whom all things in heaven and earth and under the earth bow and obey. Her Redeemer is the same One who went to calvary to redeem us all. Will we miss her? At times I have no doubt that we will miss her sorely. But as she helped to lead this congregation so carefully in life, it seems somehow fitting that she would lead us rightly by her death!