05 January 2007

The Harvest to Come

The last few weeks have been pretty heavy.

Of course there is the normal busyness of Christmas with its relational and logistical intensity. For us however there has been a further development.

After visiting with family on Christmas day (he had been playing cards with Christel and some others) my Grandpa Humfrey had a severe stroke on Boxing Day morning.

The following days were filled with visits to Foothills hospital in Calgary, while taking a sort of crash course in medical ethics.

We were scheduled to meet at the hospital in my Grandpa's room on Saturday for a prayer service with his Anglican minister at around 1pm. When most of the family had arrived near 1pm, Grandpa had already passed a half hour before. Thankfully, some of his daughters were with him earlier. And we continued at Grandpa's bedside led by the Anglican minister. At the end, Christel and I sang two hymns Be Thou My Vision and Amazing Grace. A few shared reflections on my Grandpa.

The subsequent days were a whirlwind of grieving, planning and relational give-and-take. I was glad to be able to give the homily (sermon) even though the Anglican minister would be leading the service.

On Wednesday night before the Thursday funeral, there was a family viewing and prayer service led again by the Anglican minister. Christel and I had prepared another hymn Be Still My Soul , followed by Peace Like a River (It is Well). Again, we were struck with how touched many of our relatives were by the hymns we shared.

Thursday came and the funeral. God gave me liberty to speak as I referenced 1 Cor 15:20, 42-44 with the theme, How the Farmer taught the Soul to Prepare for the Harvest since my Grandpa was a farmer and the Scriptures are full of farming imagery.

In essence it was a reflection on Christ as the firstfruits of the resurrection, the image of harvest for resurrection, and also the necessity, practically and spiritually, of seeding time in order to have a harvest.
I was able to share how 5 or 6 years ago, my Grandpa had been terrified by dreams where he was being accused of being a murderer, yet he protested his innocence---he had not killed anyone! In terms of my sermon, his fear was that his harvest would be all chaff. I was able to share with him how all of us are not murderers in act, but certainly in heart since there is none righteous, not one. I then shared the gospel with him, and I believe, he believed in Christ alone with a sincere faith. He returned to health from that bed of sickness and we had him for a few more years. I did see a change in his life which gave me encouragement.


So with the prospect of us all having a chaff-filled harvest, I exhorted the packed Anglican church along with myself to be sure that the urgency of the seeding time does not pass. We all must sow faith in Christ, lest there be no hope of a good harvest in the resurrection.

The service went well and was remarked on by many. I was informed that my Grandpa's Lebanese Muslim neighbor had come to the funeral and it was the first time she had been in a church. She was brought by my Grandpa's other neighbors (the husband was a former Nazarene pastor) who were so thankful for my message. I was also approached by an elderly Sikh lady who inquired of me concerning the identity of the 'young man' in the tomb in Mark 16:1-8, a portion that I read. Such a specific question! She too, seemed sincerely interested in what I had spoke. Other folks--especially neighboring farmers who I know well---commented to me about my message, which I realized later was the first time any of them had heard me preach.

It was a trying time but God provided for us. And it may be that my Grandpa's life was used for the glory of Christ's kingdom even more at the end of his life than before. May it be so.



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