Yesterday, as usual, I arrived very much in the mood for worship. I knew there was a bus trip scheduled right after worship, and as always, on the third Sunday we celebrate Communion. Therefore, I knew things did need to move along. As I was finishing up my short homily, I noticed a younger woman come into the room and take a seat in the back. I waved in acknowledgement, and planned to go to her after I finished talking, to at least offer her a song sheet.
However, she raised her hand, and I paused.
"My mother died to today. Would you say a prayer?" I asked her mother's name, and we did pray. The next hymn, "Jesus, I Come," we dedicated to Freida. The daughter then left as quietly as she entered (I was able to talk with her on the patio afterwards).
As I broke the bread, the surrender of the body and love seemed particularly moving to me. Afterwards, I asked those present if they wanted to share some of their thoughts and feelings about Freida. I learned she was much loved, and as I listened, my heart filled with joy, even though I was surrounded by a tangible grief. Marge, who is in a wheelchair, said, "When I first moved here, I was really angry and I refused even to eat with other people. However, Freida gently got me involved." Others echoed much the same sentiment. It seems she was always a welcoming,encouraging voice.
My joy comes from not the fact that an elder passed, but rather that she passed from this life loved. She left a spiritual legacy of care and friendship. She touched lives, even when she was ill and in her last days. I never had heard of her until Sunday, but I was moved to celebrate her life and give thanks for her presence. As we concluded our time with singing "Blessed Assurance," I was amazed how beautifully the hymns fit into our service, and I was also amazed at the strong sense I had of Jesus being present. I think Freida brought us all closer to Jesus and to one another. Her passing also reminded me of the stoicism of the group, and that I need to look for signs of sorrow that can happen between 1:15 and 2:00 p.m. on just about any day of the week, but maybe particularly on Sunday.
Thank you, Freida for all you brought to us. Blessings on your journey.
Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
William T. Sleeper, 1887