I’ll never forget the Holy Saturday night, many years ago, receiving a late night call that my mother had a stroke. She was in Lincoln, Nebraska, 800 miles away from where I lived in Saginaw, Michigan. Easter worship in the church where I was pastor was just a few hours away.
How could I lead worship and preach on Easter? I held in my heart both my mom and my family and the congregation I was called to serve. Words can’t describe the emotion, the pain, the questions. Seminary didn’t teach us how to live through personal crisis like these! God leads us through these experiences. What I remember:
1) I did my best to lead Easter worship. I was numb. God did most of the work!
2) I was honest with the congregation sharing my situation.
3) I asked for prayers.
Following worship I got into my car and drove to Nebraska—easier for me to drive than fly. My family couldn’t join me. Driving was good. I had time on the road with my thoughts and prayers and God.
Finally, with my mom and sister we talked and prayed. All mom could do is look at me with searching eyes and very slight movement with her hand. I had not seen her for several years. I could only try to imagine what she was trying to say. I thank God I had this time with mom before her death. My sister was also with me.
I remained in Lincoln several days, along with my sister and her family, to conduct memorial service in the nursing home where she lived. I remember asking my church secretary to fax materials from Saginaw that I would need to conduct this service. In the service I sang a favorite, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. We had ice cream and cake—something mom would have enjoyed.
My wife and brother and other family members couldn’t be with me. Another service would be planned so other members of the family could attend.
My point in writing this:
I thank God, through the RISEN CHRIST, for the strength to get me through what all families in a host of contexts in our congregations, experience every day. With all the painful things that befall us, God is always with us! With Gods help, through faith, we can get through anything. Jesus lives! God is with us! ALL THE TIME!