For years it’s been my tradition on All Saints Sunday to affirm from the pulpit the lives and faith of brothers and sisters in Christ at Holy Trinity who have died in the last year – giving thanks to God for the works of the Spirit demonstrated by sinners just like the rest of us according to our baptismal prayers: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in God’s presence.
As I’m out of town this weekend for the wedding of Alex Benedick to Catherine Sustersic, I’ve chosen to do the same through a newsletter article this year. Even from afar, I stand with you in prayer giving thanks to God for the community of sinner-saints we share with folks like these:
Carroll Neff was one of the friendliest, humblest people you’d ever meet. Meet him once and he was your friend. I lived across the street from him for 20 years and only learned through his obituary that he’d been valedictorian and a Hall of Fame football player in high school.
Margaret “Peg” Timm embraced the vocation of her marriage with Bob as much as any couple ever has. Their Christ-like, self-giving love for each other was obvious for all to see, completing each others’ sentences and treating friends and neighbors like the children they never had.
Marty Reissig demonstrated persistence in faith through her devotion to women’s group members long after stepping away from other groups in the community.
Patsy Crowell wore her identity as child of God her whole life long: baptized at the Lutheran church in Pulaski, Virginia where as a youth she met her life’s mate Ohmer and shared with him a life and family that always looked forward to the next opportunity God held for them, through car accidents and health challenges that separated them for the last couple years of their lives … always expecting the situation to be resolved … which, of course, now it is.
Charles Wilcox demonstrated a gift for living the “already” of God’s kingdom here and now even before arriving in heaven forever. As much as he missed Mary for the last 10 years of his life and considered her God’s greatest gift to him, Charlie embraced every opportunity to share with family and friends in the meantime, even to his last day saying: “Not that I want to go, but I am ready.”
James Henderson, with his passion and devotion to the selfless character of fire department services, certainly understood something about what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. He was the picture of faithful usher service for decades.
Ohmer Crowell, filled with God’s spirit of wisdom and understanding, was a man of thoughtful, well-developed, forcefully shared perspectives, while at the same time remaining open to the similarly crafted perspectives of others, weighed together for decisions shared by the community as a whole.
For all the saints, we give thanks, O God.