Life here seems to be obsessed, over this past 24 hours or so, with one thing. But you’ll understand: a young man in our congregation (only 29!), in fact–a helper at the kids’ club, died suddenly yesterday, leaving a fiance (also a member of our congregation) and many, many people whom he had impressed in his short, short life. Facebook was just flooded with comments, shock, beautiful pictures and memories. How strange to have the auto-complete assume his name, when typing an email address for a different “Chris”. How sad to go to Cindy’s facebook page and see last month’s status saying that she could not possibly love him any more than she did at that moment! (They were to be married next summer.)
How strange to arrive at church this morning and have everyone greeting you with a hug, but nary a smile! We were thankful to have the opportunity to “give way” to grief during the service, as they made some last-minute adjustments to allow for it. There was a reflection time at the beginning, and then we continued with the planned Day Camp Celebration Sunday… which helped to put smiles back on people’s faces by the end of the morning. (Oh, those Silly Songs!)
The reflection time started with a Psalm of crying out for help, then a brief time of sharing, some prayer for the grieving families, and finally a beautiful couple of songs. (“Give Me Jesus”, and Amazing Grace with that extra chorus from the movie). The Mom broke the initial silence when they opened it up for sharing (everyone thinks she’s shy–ha!) by saying simply: “His nickname at Club House was Care Bear, and I think that about says it all.” She appreciated Carol’s explanation: yes, we all knew he was epileptic, but we did not know that he was always in “danger”, had operations, various troublesome episodes, and knew he was taking a risk in travelling to India (with Cindy & family); but he always lived life to the fullest in spite of it.
That was just Carol’s reflection. Her sermon was great too! It fell to her to speak on Eph. 4:32-5:2, the middle of a series we’ve been doing on Ephesians. As she said, the verses leading up to these ones have a lot of “don’t’s” in them, and the ones coming after have a lot of “do’s”–all of them very difficult to follow. But these middle few verses she called “the Jewel in the Crown”, because they show us HOW to follow! And the answer, though there is a complicated side to it, is simple. (She said she’ll cover the complicated side another time, since this sermon had to be very short with everything going on this morning.) The Jewel of course, is about God’s love and forgiveness–a love so great that He died in our place so that we could be forgiven. This is what enables us to live loving and forgiving towards others.
So, there we are feeling great about that reminder, and Carol goes and ends off with something to choke us up again. She tells us that she decided on the title of her sermon days ago, but it reminds her of a song that is just so perfect for today…
“When He cometh, when He cometh
To take up His jewels;
All His jewels, precious jewels–
His loved and his own.
Like the stars of the morning!
His bright crown adorning!
They shall shine in their beauty–
His loved and His own.”
Yes, Chris was certainly His loved, and His own… and shines there now.