When Aubrey and I go to bed we each put our cell phones on our nightstands. She brings hers in case one of her patients goes into labor and a baby is born. I bring mine in case somebody dies. This week its been my phone ringing. Twice.
We've lost two stalwarts of our church community this week. The first was a sweet old lady, 95 years old. I don't think anybody can remember anything about our church without thinking of her. She lived in the manse for a long time, always was cleaning the sanctuary, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, and could give the best historical tours of the graveyard. We gave her a glorious homegoing celebration yesterday. One of her life verses was Psalm 84:10, "For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness."
Then today an 89 year old gentleman went to be with Jesus. He had lived in Cross Hill since before the beginning of time, I believe. He was one of our most talkative members, always ready with a story from his years at Clemson, or his days as a traveling door to door salesman. He was a true southern boy, loved to wear bow ties, and always very polite. But early on we established that I would call him Bob, and he would call me Jeff. We were first name friends. Anytime I visited with him, he would get to talking and I would get to listening. Nearly every visit, at some point, he would get real earnest, look me in the eye and say, "I'm so glad you're my pastor." He was so sweet, the kind of guy that made me glad to be his pastor. He leaves behind a wife, three kids, three grandkids, two great-grandkids, and many friends.
The funerals for these saints are sad, yet glorious, mournful, yet filled with joy inexpressible. As we learn to grieve as those with a wonderful hope, we are often led by our hymns:
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
bear me through the swelling current,
land me safe on Canaan's side;
songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee,
I will ever give to thee.