This week we conclude our heaven is for real study. The overachievers did it last week. (Just kidding--their pastoral leader knew he was leaving for vacation.) The 9:15am class will take a break as we head into the fall. We will be regrouping and will have a new study for the fall. My 8am class will continue our study on John. But I felt like this week it was time to step back and reflect on our study over this summer.
I am not quite sure, but I did expect the conversations to be as deep as they were. I guess I just thought things would be debated, but there was some great discussion over these topics. I was privileged to be in two of our classes. I got the
8am class and spent time in youth. Honestly, I think I would have liked to be a fly on the wall in all classes. We talked about all kinds of things: the image of Jesus, how angels work, and some much needed end times talk. Such discussions help to combat other denominations from putting so much emphasis on them. Yet, God provides a timely example of our study.
Since coming to Mt. Calvary I have been faced with death more and more. I think as a youth pastor I saw the funerals; sometimes participated; and did officiate at some; but I was more often faced with the reality of death here. Wednesday I was hit with some shocking news: the passing of our dear brother Russ Conrad. Russ was such a quiet man. As I began to learn names at Mt. Calvary he was one of the last. Not on purpose--just because of his quiet demeanor, he avoided all my normal tactics to learn names. I remember the day I said his name, he shook my hand and smiled. Wednesday I was sad. This was one of those deaths you didn’t expect. Not that you ever expect death, but most times as a pastor you get a warning sign or two. I was told Russ experienced a great day full of family time, dinner, and then he went to bed and he passed. We, in our worldly terms, call this peaceful; however, Scripture does teach us there is nothing peaceful about death, but we rejoice that there was no long suffering for Russ. One thing I do know about peace is that Russ has it now, as he finds out that Heaven is for Real. Russ was a faithful brother, giving, and caring for many in his quiet manner. I will miss seeing him. I am saddened that pastorally I had no closure, no moments at his bedside with prayer. God has allowed that with almost all of our members who have passed since I have been here. But I rejoice that my brother will be with me in heaven. I am thankful for his giving heart.
Over the last several months we spent a lot of time on details of heaven, but now with our brother Russ we are reminded of the closure of this study and the point of our faith: Heaven is for real! And now Russ knows that. And so do we. So we press on doing exactly what Russ did; we faithfully worship our Lord and love our neighbor.