The Lord Gives, and the Lord Takes Away: Remembering Uncle Red

Tomorrow, I will sit in a pew next to my family and remember a man who first introduced me to another way of doing church. You see, the pew I will sit in is in an Episcopalian church, a church much different from the churches I grew up in and attend now, and although I'm not looking forward to the funeral, I am deeply longing for the richness of the liturgy and the beauty of the service. Something about the liturgy reaches down and touches a place deep inside me. I need to hear the poignant words from the Book of Common Prayer, words that remind me both of Who Jesus is and what that means for me.

"I am the resurrection and the life," saith the Lord: "he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die."

I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Beautiful words from the mouth of Job, a man who had lost everything and yet continued to praise God.

One of my earliest memories of Uncle Red involved a hospital waiting room and open-heart surgery. Another memory involves the church I'll sit in tomorrow - and the shock of tasting real wine instead of grape juice at communion. When I was younger, Uncle Red taught me how to properly hold and fire a gun, even if it was just a BB gun aimed for a makeshift target. And after Mamaw died, Uncle Red and Aunt Pat's house became the going place during holidays. We shared dry butterbeans and potato soup, turkey, ham, rolls, cornbread, and all the trimmings before he put on his "Naughty" Santa cap and distributed the gifts. I will always be thankful for the warmth and the love shared in his home.

A couple of months ago, I took Micah to Uncle Red's house so he could meet her. I didn't know then that it would be the last time I saw my uncle, nor did I know that when I hugged him good-bye, I would never do so again. But I'm glad that my last memory of my uncle, a man who at times was more like a grandfather to me than anyone else, was of him stealing a kiss from my little girl. It's a moment I'll remember fondly.

My uncle was not a perfect man. To be sure, he had his faults, but then again, don't we all?

Tomorrow, we will celebrate his life and remember the words of the gospel. Then we will look forward to the time when death and tears will be no more. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Until next time, grace and peace.