Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sweet Special Boy

I think it must be the age- our 3 1/2 year old son has been especially endearing this month. I remember our daughter often said wonderfully endearing things around this age too.

The first was a few weeks ago. I call my kids "sweet special boy" and "sweet special girl." I was putting Jacob down for a nap, and I said "I love you, sweet special boy." He replied "I love you sweet special Mommy girl." My heart melted.

He's no slacker. I retold that story enough that he caught on how it impressed me. So he has kept saying it. He even said "thank you sweet special Mommy girl" for something I gave him as a treat he probably should not have had. Talk about winding me around his finger.

Whenever I tuck him into bed, he now says "I love you sweet special mommy girl."

He is also into rock collecting. It is almost impossible to set foot outdoors with him, without him scooping up rocks and sharing them. As I was on my way to church one morning, he handed me a rock he had collected somewhere along the way. He said "here Mommy, this is for you to remember that I love you." I kept it in my pocket all day, and smiled a lot.

The next day, I pulled out the rock and I asked him if he remembered what he had said the day before. He smiled very big as I repeated his words. Then he added, "and so you remember God loves you."

I'll be carrying the rock with me forever I think. It will certainly be going with me to Minneapolis for the Festival of Homiletics this week.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bud: See you on the other side

I have been putting this off. Perhaps for me, blogging about Bud's service of death and resurrection is an act of finality, of reluctantly acknowledging that he has really gone on. (You may remember my post about Bud that I wrote shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer. To read it, click here.)

I say this because leading this service is much different from attending such a service. Crying profusely was not really one of my choices on Monday. I was deeply honored to be a leader in the worship service, and I would not have wanted it any other way. Yet, in order to do so, I had to be somewhat detached emotionally.

So, it's Saturday... and I have not blogged in quite some time. I have had other thoughts of things to blog about, but somehow, it doesn't feel right to write about anything else until I have written about Bud.

He had become like family to me. Over the past five years, Bud was my confidant, my mentor, and my friend. Bud thought of me like a daughter and I cannot imagine any higher compliment; the feeling was mutual. Over the years, he would hint that he hoped I would be the pastor here when he crossed from this life to the next. And each time, I would pray that Bud would live to be at least 95. Bud was 83 when he died.

Bud was one of the greatest visionaries I have had the privilege of knowing. Jack Shitama, who also led the service, aptly called Bud "president of everything." He was also one of the most faithful, righteous, fruitful disciples Jesus had. Bud knew what it was to love, to forgive, and to dream God's dreams.

I can hear his voice saying so many treasured pieces of wisdom. Whenever someone would upset me, he would say "now Amy, you just have to brush it off and move on. You cannot dwell on such things. It's not worth it." He knew how to walk that talk. As someone said at his funeral, very few people got mad at Bud, but if they did, he just kept loving them until they got over it.

I was overwhelmed by the thought of writing the sermon for that day. As usual, God sorted it out for me, and it just flowed out of my fingers in onto my screen. Bud's final witness was a powerful one: Bud had a good death. Through Bud, God showed us what it is like to face death unafraid. Bud kept hearing the Lord say "just trust me." That is what Bud did. He had no regrets, no fears...he trusted. (He did appeal to the Lord for several months for more energy, but even in the face of that unanswered prayer, he received it with grace.)

Bud did not even have any pain. The cancer that started in his esophagus and spread to his liver before it was diagnosed as end stage cancer did not wrack him with pain. He and Marilyn attributed that to the power of prayer.

One of the key concepts of Christian faith in the Wesleyan tradition is the understanding of sanctifying grace. This is the grace that we receive after coming to faith; it is the grace that allows us to become more like Christ, to become more holy. We believe that it as at least possible for a person to be entirely sanctified. That is to say, it is possible to be made perfect in love, to love as Christ loves.

It is not mine to judge whether Bud was entirely sanctified. Bud I can certainly say that if I were asked to name one person who I thought might fit the bill, Bud would be the one. He knew how to love, he knew how to forgive, and he followed Christ with complete devotion.

Bud passed peacefully from this side of the Jordan to the other. Even as I grieve the loss of his presence here, I am trying to hold onto the comfort of knowing that in Christ, Bud lives on.

See you on the other side.