Life Along the Way: FLO
My friend Flo died last week. So, here I am sitting at my computer thinking about preaching at her funeral on Saturday. I want to get it right; and I want to tell her family how precious she was. And I want them to understand that she still is, only better, and stronger and purer. And I want to honour her memory here and celebrate her eternity there.
But, mostly, I want the real pastor to show up: the one who isn’t going to worry about bawling like a baby when the family sings “You are my Sunshine” because Grandma Flo always sang it to them. The one who doesn’t mumble and search for words to speak into the grief. The one who doesn’t have to worry about forgetting something important. That one: the man [and I’ll be honest, in my imagination, it’s a man] who looks authoritative, and fatherly, and comforting in his backwards collar and conservative suit.
But I’m the pastor they’ve got. So, I’m not going to try to be profound, or authoritative or even ‘pastoral.’ I’m going to tell a story, because Flo always liked it when I told the Bible stories. I’m going to talk about nine lepers who believed and were obedient and were physically healed.
Mostly, I’m going to talk about the tenth one who was more: he was grateful. I’m going to talk about how it was the ‘thank you’ that Jesus said made him well.
I’m going to tell that story because Flo was always thankful: she rubbed her aching arthritic hands and thanked Jesus for the life he gave her; she buried a son and thanked her church friends for praying her through; she visited a daughter-in-law devastated by Alzheimers and thanked Frank for taking her so she could go and pray and say “Hi sweetheart, it’s Mom. I love you.”
And in the last day of her life on this side of forever, she was thankful for the nurses who came to poke and prod and catheterize and measure.
She told the nurse “this is my friend, Kim.” Then she corrected herself and said “this is my Pastor Kim.” It was clear that she liked the friend Kim, but she loved the pastor. And, Glory be, she was thankful that God had brought me to keep her company on this last mile of the journey.
So I held the twisted little hand and we prayed that God would take away the pain and that Jesus would make her well. And she thanked me for praying and for sitting, and for being pastor and friend.
I’m going to stand up on Saturday and, even if my voice trembles a bit, I’m hoping I can help them understand that she’s thanking Jesus face-to-face now. No aching twisted fingers, no bent back: there are no walkers in Paradise. I believe with all my heart that her faith in Jesus has made her well in every possible way that matters.
I still want to grow up to be Flo. Godspeed, my friend: I am so thankful for you.