Happy Anniversary

Early church Sunday was very meaningful even though school spring breaks in full bloom resulted in lower attendance in every respect, although I don’t fret about such like I used to. Making a point in this installment of his Lenten sermon series -- “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” -- senior pastor Davis mentioned that he and a half-dozen others were leaving that afternoon to go to Amman, Jordan on a mission related to the refugee crisis in that part of the world. “We’ve talked about this situation long enough; we want to try to DO something about it!” That was one example of being a servant, but not all acts are or even need to be of that magnitude.

Later he reported that long-time BUMC member Elizabeth Hill died last week and her memorial service was Friday. Elizabeth’s ministry was making shawls for people who were ill or otherwise needed to sense the warmth of God’s love or the support of God’s people wrapped around them in times of crisis. She and several other women would gather at the church one day a week to knit shawls and pray for persons in need. (Davis affectionately refers to that bunch as “The Knit-pickers.”) He said the Jordan mission team would be taking eight of Elizabeth’s shawls to Amman this week to share with some of the refugees, extending her servant heart that expressed itself in specific action.

That’s when it hit me -- Honey received one of Elizabeth’s shawls when she was sick; one of the pastoral care ministers had brought it to her. Honey loved that shawl and was so touched by their kindness and inclusiveness. After the service I rushed home and found the shawl, laundered and stored in her cedar chest at the foot of our bed. I scribbled a note, put both in a bag and returned to the church. The contemporary service in progress in the sanctuary, Leslie, the church’s Executive Director happened to be in her office adjacent to the narthex. I handed her the bag, shared the shawl’s history, and asked her to see if she could get it in one of the suitcases bound for Amman later in the day that “Honey would be all over this!” (All of us who knew Honey well would readily agree.) Leslie’s face lit up as her eyes filled up. I explained that this week -- actually Friday -- is the two-year anniversary of Honey’s death and sending her treasured shawl to a refugee halfway around the world would absolutely delight her and be the most appropriate way to remember and celebrate who she was.

(The most amazing part of this whole incident is that I put it all together. Maybe I AM beginning to catch on to some of this.)

Leaving worship Sunday a text from daughter Weslee reported that Jonathan (12) and Andrew (9) had made their professions of faith at their church. Their child-like faith has been blooming for some time, they have been talking about it awhile and have decided to follow Jesus. Whoa! Can anyone else besides me see Honey’s wide smile from here? If schedules can be worked out, the boys’ two grandfathers will baptize them. Will that be cool or what!

Like many of you, I seldom answer or even use my home phone. For some time now, its most important function remains as a repository for telemarketing messages. Sure, I check it when the message light is blinking but nine times out of ten it is someone trying to sell me something. They have no idea what a waste of time that is. However, getting dinner together one night last week I noticed the blinking light feverishly signaling a message -- this one from Nettie Hunt.  NETTIE HUNT! Holy smoke, that’s Honey’s chemo friend who became like a sister to her. You may remember reading about Nettie in some of Honey’s early Facebook updates that made their way into the Notes From Susie book. They loved each other, they were about the same age, and those gals had a big time traveling a hard road together. I called Nettie when Honey died but today she was calling me to see how I was doing coming up on March 24. We had the nicest visit, she’s doing fine, I sent her a copy of the book, and we committed to stay in touch. What an unexpected blessing!

I’ve never been particularly good at celebrating anniversaries, but celebrating Honey on this second anniversary of her death is off to a good start -- two grandsons declaring their faith, reconnecting with Nettie, and a shawl shared with a Jordanian refugee. Add to all that a visit to the cemetery last Saturday with my brother and Nathan coming to town later this week that includes catfish on Friday, the words of hymnwriter Fanny Crosby come quickly to mind – “what have I to ask beside?”

While we’re at it, we might as well sing the rest of Fanny’s hymn; sing it with me, you know it –

All the way my Savior leads me;
     what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
     who through life has been my guide?

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
     here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befalleth,
     Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me;
     cheers each winding path I tread,
     give me grace for every trial,
     feeds me with the living bread;
     though my weary steps may falter
     and my soul athirst may be,
     gushing from the rock before me,
     lo! a spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me;
     oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
     in my Father’s house above:
     when my spirit, clothed immortal,
     wings its flight to realms of day,
     this my song through endless ages:
     Jesus led me all the way.

Words – Fanny Crosby, 1875

Happy Anniversary, Honey!