I am going to skip the retreat this week because I have been thinking about other things this week. Yesterday, a 95 year old woman passed away early near the break of dawn. There will be no coverage on CNN or Fox of this death. She will have a small obituary in a newspaper that no one heard unless you live in Waynesboro PA.
She was the lifelong friend of my mother who I am sure was there to greet her when she entered heaven's gates. She was a very small woman but with the grit and determination of women and men much larger than she. I met her several times as a child. I knew she had been the maid-of-honor at my parents wedding, causing the wedding to be late. She'd come to visit it us occasionally in Brooklyn. In retrospect, I wonder why it was so seldom. An hour on the subway separated these two girls from Waynesboro living in Brooklyn.
I also knew she was the one who invited my mother to church when they were girls, living on Wayne Hill. I would hear of the three large families living there, the Potts', the Calimer's, and the Bumbaugh's. The Calimer's and Potts' were pentecostal in a town that still wasn't sure what to do with these holy rollers. Soon my mother became a holy roller too and she would long the steep hill up and down to go to church.
Some day, I need to tell the story of the spite fence and my mother's trip to NYC to work for Jewish people in Flatbush. But not today.
Today, I want to share what I shared yesterday on my own blog, Sounds of Hope. A saint of God has gone home. Heaven noticed. I noticed. Saints of God are leaving us every day, every hours. They need us to fill their places.
When I was a child I used to hear sermons of hell
Someone would say they saw it
The vision of people falling into a fiery pit imprinted on my soul
I’d wonder and fear, cry and repent…
Now I only think of another line, the line of saints going home
I see them in line, in robes of white with sparkling crowns
As they near the throne, they stop and bow
They bow as they have always bowed, before the Lord of Lords
I see my godly mother and father, flawed and imperfect made whole by the blood of the Lamb.
I see them together again, worshipping their Lord
They gave there best, they gave me life, they gave me LIFE – they gave me
I see my Sunday School teachers and Pastors of my childhood
I see so clearly their imprint on my life – a heritage of holiness and faith
I see those I only saw in photographs, my grandparents and my mother’s childhood pastor
I see the saints from Waynesboro that formed my mother’s faith
I see especially the one at the end of the line who entered heaven’s portal this morning
So many are there to thank her for her life, witness and faithfulness.
I see her family gather round her, what a heritage
Her friends join in the joyful reunion,
the girls of Wayne Hill.
Just like the late night reunions by the street light
They join together under the light of the Lord
They giggle, hug, and laugh, they are home. Home at last.
I see them; I see hundreds of them –
I wonder who is teaching the Sunday School now.
I wonder who is sharing God’s love through a smile, a touch, a card, a song…
Do you see them?
I see them
I see them as they briefly leave the worship of the throne and look at us
They are looking to see if we are coming behind them.
I wonder will we hear well done, good and faithful?
ONLY ONE LIFE WILL SOON BE PAST
ONLY WHAT'S DONE FOR CHRIST WILL LAST
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.