Nothing like a funeral, these days, to stir memories. And not just any old memories. But tender ones; deep ones. Memories of a life. A life lived with kindness. A life poured out for others. A life of generosity if you will, of passing on dreams, and visions, of character, and quality. A life given to music, and art, that for a lifetime stirred hearts, and lifted spirits, and, in the doing so, made history, left a legacy that made people better around that life.
Today we gathered to hear what God had done with the life of a man who loved music. Who made music – beautifully. How many times, for Christmas Eve, he sat in the balcony, and played on his euphonium “O Holy Night,” in a crowded church where, in the dark, during his playing, angels seemed to hover near, and hearts were open to ethereal things, to mysteries of the universe, to the very drama of heaven leaning close to earth, and calling God’s children to come to Bethlehem and see what God had done to give to earth His Son. Of a night when shepherds told angel stories, and ran from a stable to tell “everyone” what God had done.
Of course, that was only one night of a year, to one congregation of enthralled people, being invited to believe.
Many got up to tell of how one man’s life touched their life, whether they were grandchildren, or musical colleagues, or members of those many orchestras he’d played in, or conducted, from the Philadelphia Orchestra, to youth orchestras, to the Minnesota Orchestra, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble which he founded.
His students were everywhere, and his colleagues, and his friends. At 90, he crossed over to heaven’s side, and today we gathered to hear his music, and to hear great music played to honor him, and to hear a preacher who loved him, tell bedside stories of his faith, and to tell us all the great story of God’s coming to earth in Jesus, the Savior of the world, Who lived a life for us, from a cradle to the cross, so we too might live for others, in lives that would give memories to many.
And then, after a New Orleans kind of rendering of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” we went to the Pilgrim Pastor John Robinson’s Great Hall, to drink coffee and tell our own stories of life and faith, with “precious memories” thrown in.
One woman reminded me of the rock from Plymouth, Massachusetts shore which she brought, on her lap, to be our own mid-western cornerstone. Another reported of her husband’s new and conquering life of dialysis made victorious by faith.
And while I sat with coffee and a cookie a young woman I’d never met knelt beside my chair to thank me for the youth ministry that had brought her to Jesus, and still the joy of her life.
Even our 50-year organist and composer, colleague of the maestro we had sent home to heaven, said “and if you want me to play for your service, just call me and I’ll come.”
Promise of faith, prompted by love, as in the beloved community, we remembered eternal truths and spilled them out as blessings from our lives. Oh memories, precious memories, that one cold November afternoon, surfaced and said the deep things of our hearts, to be courage to each other, for the road ahead, which we each have before us.
Don’t discount them. They are the deep things of tender life that God gives us all.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. . ."