TITLE: A Fine Farewell
DATE: February 14, 2019
TEXT: Luke 15:7- (ESV) - 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
From 1964 to 1968 Joseph Walker served in Vietnam as a member of the US Air Force. After that he spent the next 50-years living his life. Although others may know a great deal about Joseph and those silent decades, none of the articles I have read provided any information.
But whatever Joseph had planned on doing, wherever he had thought he might be going; all those dreams ended when Joseph breathed his last.
The organization responsible for his funeral, the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, tried to contact close relatives, maybe Joseph’s spouse or children. There were none. They expanded their search to distant relatives, then to any kind of relative, or friends who might have been near or dear.
Once again they struck out.
The Cemetery put out word that Joseph Walker was to be buried as an “unaccompanied veteran.” That means there would be nobody present at Joseph’s service other than the cemetery workers. That word went out over social media over radio, television, even from the office of the Senator.
The message was the same: “If you have the opportunity, please come out and attend. We do not leave Veterans behind.”
Somewhere between 2, 000 and 5,000 people turned up to hear the message by Marc George of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. He said “Today we are not strangers; today we are family.”
When I first read that article, my first reaction was, “Wouldn’t’ it be great if the Christian Church acted that way toward all of its members? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we said, ”We do not leave our fellow believers behind? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every funeral we did shouted to the world that ‘because of the Savior’s sacrifice, by the Holy Spirit’s power, we were family and not strangers,’”?
Then I thought again. I thought back on the hundreds of funerals which I have conducted, of the attitude of my congregations toward those who had died. I realized I had sold my churches short:. I could recall…
Time and again I saw the congregation come together and offer comfort and aid to those who might have been ignored; whose family could have been forgotten; for those who were unknown; for those who were very young, very old or newcomers to the community. And every time, without exception, the attitude of those congregations said, “These who have been redeemed by the Savior, will not be forgotten by us..”
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for the Savior, Whose life was spent winning my forgiveness and eternal life. May we who still live on earth prove to be supportive of those who are in need and rejoice when the Spirit takes a fellow believer home. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion was inspired by various articles, amongst which is the one written by Rob Quinn for Newser on January 29, 2019 Those who wish may check out this link here: http://www.newser.com/story/270566/thousands-of-strangers-show-up-for-funeral-of-texas-veteran.html?utm_source=8at8&utm_medium=email&utm_content=1636843631041955295&utm_campaign=20190129
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann, one of my long-ago confirmands. He is singing with three brothers. This song comes from the album: The Baumann Brothers: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html