This was quite a different kind of week and weekend for me.
Last Monday, my best friend Jim Murcray passed on to glory. The whole week was taken up with being with the family and making arrangements and plans for a Saturday memorial service. Also, during the week I met with a man in our church (Michael Dotson) whose ordination would be on Sunday.
In the last few days, I have received several cards in the mail that shared the thoughfulness and comfort from those who knew that I would be hurting inside. And I want to thank those who did, and they know who they are. I also received dozens of notes by email from those who gave me words of encouragement and love at this time. Those were very touching and meaningful words from everyone, whether by personal visit or phone or card or email. Just the touch from someone in that way is powerful and precious.
This past weekend showed me again that God's plan for the ages embraces the cycle of life. We held a celebration service on Saturday to memorialize the end of a pastor's earthly life, and then on Sunday morning held a worship celebration of Thanksgiving leading into the Sunday afternoon celebration of an Ordination Service signaling the beginning of a minister's life of service for the sake of the gospel.
The ending of Pastor Jim Murcray's earthly ministry and then the beginning of Pastor Mike Dotson's earthly ministry. With a worship service in between that focused on our blessings and our thankfulness to a holy God who is in charge of all. Very powerful to see through a sense of heaven's plan, a kind of a divine order and choreography by the author of all history, even the Lord Jesus Christ who sits on his throne.
We have a small church building, but we put up every chair we could in the sanctuary auditorium on Saturday. There was seating for about 212, and almost every seat was taken. Our count was 205 for the memorial service. It was truly a time of celebration and worship, recounting the life of a wonderful servant of Jesus. There are no words to really express the wonder of the moment as we gathered together for a time of good-bye to such a one who was loved by so many. Jim Murcray touched so many lives and had an impact on more than we will ever know.
During our Sunday morning service, I preached on the Biblical account of the healing of 10 lepers by Jesus. Only one came back to thank Jesus. My message focused on two parts. First, what keeps us from giving thanks to God. Second, the necessity and importance of showing and verbalizing our thanks to God. Prior to the sermon, I led the congregation as they shared in a short time of testimonies. What a thrill to hear and know about God's movement and blessings in the lives of those around us.
And, finally, at 1 o'clock Sunday afternoon we gathered again at the church to ordain Mike Dotson. An ordination service is always such a high and holy time of setting aside an individual that has surrendered to the call of God to serve for a lifetime of ministry. This day was no different. It was a wonderful time to sense the Lord's presence and to rejoice in what God will do in the future.
I am always amazed at some who deny the power and movement of God in our world. This past weekend just showed again the goodness and grace of the Almighty. It is more than evident as I grow older, and I see more proof than would be ever necessary to sing God's praises and trust in him by faith for all eternity.
In the spirit of this Thanksgiving season, I must proclaim to all that I am blessed beyond measure.