May 18, 2022
“How good is a timely word!” ~ Proverbs 15:23b NIV
I had my sister Carol’s Celebration of Life service all planned before Easter. It was a simple service that I thought she would want. I wasn’t going to lead it, or serve as the pastor, because I knew I needed to be pastored. On May 2, I opened an email from the secretary at Grace Church of Columbiana, Carol’s church. She had discovered in a file in her computer an order of worship that Carol wrote for her celebration of life back in 2014.
It was anything but simple, but it was what she wanted. Three sung hymns. One hymn for reflection. Three scriptures for the Call the Worship, five scriptures of hope and resurrection, a time of remembrance, several other scriptures before the meditation, a responsive litany, two scriptures for the commendation, and the express request that bagpipes be played to honor our family’s Scot heritage. My oldest sister was getting the last word.
Remarkably, I was able to locate a bagpiper who returned my email within 10 minutes and was available on that day and time. We had a signed contract within an hour from reading her order of worship. Someone up there was pulling some strings!
Carol always was organized and knew how she wanted things done. She would never let anyone else load her dishwasher because she “knew how to do it right.” She was doing it with the worship service. And she was right.
It was a lovely service, from Amazing Grace on the bagpipes to the closing hymn (so appropriate right now) “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I cried my way through most of it. But what got me the most was that through the order of worship, Carol was declaring her faith and her hope. I felt as if the very words to songs and scripture passages were speaking directly to me, to all of us, of her deepest convictions about God, about hope, and about our call to serve others and “hold God’s people in my heart” as the words to “Here I Am, Lord,” the song for reflection, was played.
I was hoping to honor and celebrate Carol’s life for her family and friends. In letting go of my plans, what I received from Carol’s plan gave me so much more. My big sister ministered to me, even after her life on earth had ended. How good were those timely words!
With thanks to God for her life and faith that was lived out in actions. ~ Anne