Monday, September 27, 2010

This morning . . .

I drove a little over 300 miles, but arrived at a destination only 4 miles from where I started.  I got up early and headed to Detroit for one of my favorite annual conferences, the St. Michael Liturgical Conference at Zion Lutheran.  I got a later start than I wanted to, but made it to the church parking lot right as Holy Mass was beginning at 9:00 a.m.  As I circled the parking lot to find a spot (the lot was jam packed; I would have probably had to park on the street), my cell rang.  It was the daughter of one of our dear shut-ins, Violet, alerting me that Violet had been called home by our Lord, and that she and her sister would be meeting with the funeral director at 11:00 a.m. to make arrangements.  So, I sat there in the parking lot for a moment looking at the beautiful church I love to visit, coveting the blessings I knew those inside were surely receiving from our gracious Lord, said a quick prayer, drove out of the parking lot, and headed back to Alma.  I made it to the funeral home about 11:20 to give Linda and Barb a hug and help them plan the next couple of days.  So, over 300 miles to go 4.  Stuff like that happens sometimes in my line of work.  And, you know what, I don't mind it a bit.  As disappointed as I am at having to miss the conference - especially after having made it all the way to the church parking lot! - I am called to serve at my Lord's bidding, even when His timing and mine don't jive.  And, what a blessing and high privilege it is to bring the comfort of the Gospel to those in need!

Violet was a wonderful woman of faith.  She was blessed with 92 years of life here in this vale of tears, and for 88 of those years, she was in good health, and could be found sitting in the pew receiving our Lord's Divine Gifts every Sunday morning.  For the past four years, she has continued to receive those Gifts in the nursing home as the Holy Word and Sacraments were brought to her.  She wasn't a big fan of that arrangement.  She would've much rather have been sitting in the pew, and I think she mentioned that fact each and every time I paid her a visit.  Our elders, who also visit our shut-ins, could attest to that.  But, she was very thankful that these Gifts were brought to her, and she loved to receive them, which was evidenced by her eyes lighting up every time I walked in the room to deliver them.

Violet spent the last week in hospice care, and was comfortable and at peace all the way until she breathed her last early this morning.  We knew her time here was coming to a close.  In fact, last Wednesday, when death seemed immanent, I prayed the Commendation of the Dying with her, and her daughter, Barb, was there to participate in the prayers.  Her other daughter, Linda, was in Paris, France, and it seemed very probable that she would not get to see her mother one last time, as she wasn't scheduled to return until late Saturday evening.  But, our Lord, full of grace, mercy, and compassion as He is, allowed Violet a few more days here, and Linda was able to spend a whole day with her yesterday.  Pretty cool, that!

Violet knew that her Redeemer lives, as do all who have been called out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.  What an absolute blessing it is to be filled with that knowledge and gifted with that faith.  We do not mourn like those who have no hope.  Thanks be to God for that!  He IS our Shepherd and we shall not want!  We shall dwell in His House forever, even as Violet has finally received her wish to be back in the House of the Lord, worshiping now with all the saints and angels in the heavenly bliss of the Church Triumphant.   

O God of grace and mercy, we give thanks for Your loving-kindness shown to our sister, Violet, and to all Your servants who, having finished their course in faith, now rest from their labors.  Grant that we also may be faithful unto death and receive the crown of eternal life.  Be with Violet's family in their time of sorrow.  Let comfort and peace reside with those family members who know Your Son, Jesus Christ, by faith, reminding them that a joyful reunion awaits them in heaven, and bring those who do not believe to saving faith in Christ, that they, too, may experience that same comfort and peace; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

+ Rest eternal grant Violet, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her!  Amen. +          

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