• Dick Sharber

Reflections: Goodbyes to Hellos

The beginnings marked by Advent have this year been preceded by goodbyes. As many families have suffered separations in recent times, so our church family has especially felt the loss of Jean Steffy (Sept), Helen Myers (Oct) and Lois Justin (Nov).

Jean had nurtured countless “adopted” children through her years of Sunday School teaching, and encouraged many of us through her faith-filled calls and notes. Helen’s children movingly testified to what we saw during her years with us: a gentle, caring heart driven by a devoted Gospel faith. Lois colored our congregation with her warm personality with humor and devotion to her family. Each lady lived well into her 80s and is missed by our church family.

Such goodbyes highlight scriptural themes:

Comfort: Comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly . . . that her hard service has been completed. . . . He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. (-Isaiah 40) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit . . . he binds up their wounds. (Psalm 34 & 147).

Wisdom: It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time. (Eccl. 7) Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days.Let me know how fleeting is my life.(Ps 39)

Assurance: Don’t be troubled. You believe in God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me. (Jn 14)

Purpose: We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven . . . so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose, and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. . . . So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (-2 Corinthians 5).

We say goodbye to our dear sisters sadly but appreciatively and hopefully, even as we prepare for the Advent of whatever the Lord has next for us who remain.

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