Unexpected Signs of Life

Dear Friends,
 
I shared in my sermon last Sunday an experience I had the previous day at Doris Brand’s funeral.
The experience reminded me of our loved one’s (and God’s) constant presence in our lives, even though they’ve gone before us.
 
I needed a hymnal to officiate the funeral with. Coming from a Lutheran system, I haven’t yet bought my own UMC hymnal 🙂
 
I grabbed a random hymnal from a random pew in the sanctuary. I opened the front cover to insert my notes and there, on the the “In Memory of … ” nameplate sticker, was the name “John Brand”, given in memory by “Doris Brand”.
 
I was amazed at the chances of that happening just prior to my officiating Doris’ funeral service. I then began to diminish the odds of that happening, thinking that maybe Doris had donated ALL the hymnals in memory of her husband John 🙂
 
So, on Sunday morning during my sermon I asked the congregation to pull out the hymnal in front of them, open the front cover, and raise their hand if anyone’s hymnal was donated by Doris Brand. No hands raised. My doubts were defeated and I was moved that in her own mischievous way, Doris had led me to that random pew to select that random hymnal, with her name in it. I had enjoyed several visits with Doris in the period from July until just a couple days before she died. For her to remind me of her presence on the day we were gathering to celebrate her life, was not out of character for Doris. It was fitting, and I cherish that memory and experience.
 
Such experiences are not random, are they? I referred to this illustration in my sermon as one of the “signs of life” that are constantly around us, in a world that is so often consumed with such obvious signs of death, destruction, violence and injustice. Instead of dwelling on the negative in life, as people of faith, we are called to look for the joy, love, and peace that is also, and perhaps for some, less evident in our lives.
 
I am grateful for these little signs of life that our loved ones who have gone before us continue to show us. I am grateful for the significant signs of life that God continues to show us. It is in God’s character to show us and remind us, often, of his presence in our lives.
 
I pray that we all have eyes and ears and hearts to experience these signs in our own lives, but especially within our congregation. I invite all members of First UMC Lindstrom to look for and notice the signs of life among us, to focus on those, and to give God thanks and praise for his presence among us. We are blessed. We are grateful. We are hopeful.
 
What are your signs of life?
 
See you in Church!
 
Pr. Dale