The Celebration of Jim’s life which spawned the blending of families and friends as well as a reunion of Temple Baptist former members, has been satisfying as well as comforting. Responses and several small events that illuminated delightful configurations of melding relationships along with an outpouring of additional tributes have inspired this second Kaleidoscope blog.
I cherish the broad spectrum of shared memories: “Uncle Jim’s love for fishing at the Ward lakehouse; his personal commitment in keeping the boats and fishing poles in good condition; his delight in driving the boat to special fishing areas as well as providing exciting rides to grandchildren on inner tubes; his grilling of thousands of hotdogs for Optimist youth events and picking up dozens of fund raiser sandwiches. Mention was made about Jim’s sharpening knives wherever we visited and repairing whatever needed attention, often leaving tools for their future needs. Everyone in the family has been given their personal tube of E-6000 glue that he used to glue shoes, purses, headliners in cars, broken keepsakes, plastic ware, toys, sun glasses, etc. If all those who’ve had zippers repaired by Jim were present, they would have filled a pew. In the last few years, Jim used my sewing machine and our sewing box more than I. He liked the way he sewed buttons on, so I took advantage of his skill.
In all the preparations and including the night before the out-of-towner relatives and friends from Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, California, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, and various towns in Pennsylvania gathered for a meal at our home, the common denominator—love for Jim--was highlighted.
How exciting to hear reverberated throughout the evening, “I’ve heard about you for years and it’s so good to finally meet you.” Guests arrived at different times and it was a special joy for the children and me to witness the melding of relationships of the two families and friends as they got acquainted.
A little twist of the Kaleidoscope catches Granddaughter, Kara’s arrival. Listen in on our rendezvous.
“Kara, I have something I’ve been wanting to give to you for a couple of years. I tried to give it to your Dad, but he said to save it for when you were settled permanently in an apartment.” Kara followed me downstairs to the ping-pong room where a colorful ceramic pitcher which had been given to us at our retirement was stored on a shelf. “I said to Grandpa when we received it that it looked like something Kara would like, so we put your name on it.”
When Kara examined the pitcher, she said “Yes! It’s perfect. I’d love it. In fact, as we drove to York I mentioned to Brandon (her fiancé) that she wanted to get a pitcher while they were on this trip.” But little did either of us know, that earlier Brandon had been playing ping-pong and spotted the pitcher. He said to Kara, “I saw a pitcher on a shelf in the ping-pong room that I think you’d like.” She replied, “I just got it!” That’s a simple story, but so meaningful. We were all on the same page.
A behind the scenes arrangement is also a delicious story. In planning Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday noon dinners for our guests, Kay informed me that she was taking care of all the food and I just need to get the house ready for that many diners. “Kathy is providing all the deserts”, she said. Kathy has been a family (and church) friend for many years and was long ago renamed by Jim and me as an almost daughter. She baked homemade pies, cakes and cookies which were more than adequate.
On Saturday morning before the service began an interesting encounter evolved on the road adjacent to the church where my close friend, Judi, in finding her way to church went too far and was turning around when she noticed a car with an Ohio license tag with an elderly gentleman at the wheel parked along the side of the road. She rolled down her window and asked “Are you going to the service?” “Yes,” he said. “Are you John?” she asked having heard me speak about him many times. “I’m Ruth’s friend. We’re both lost. I have Ruth’s cell phone number and will call for directions.” John, in turn, was glad to meet the Judi that he’d heard about. Judi could hardly wait to tell me that she had already met my brother John and was able to help him.
Judi also shared that when she heard Diane sing, she said to herself, “I’m not familiar with her last name but I’ve heard that voice not long ago.” After the service ended and people were catching up with old friends, she sought out Diane and asked her if she had a brother named Buddy that she sings with. Diane said she did. “Buddy and I graduated in the same class”, Judy explained. “Several months ago, when I saw in the paper that he was going to be singing at a rest home, I decided to go so I could see him and you were singing with him.” Judi had two ‘aha’ moments.
Another friend was delighted to see Diane in person and introduced herself by saying “You won’t remember me, but we graduated in the same class”, Then, she turned to Diane’s husband and said “Did you know your wife was on the homecoming queen court?” He didn’t, but wasn’t surprised. While all of that was going on, Lois and Dennis and Marilyn and Gene were in the fellowship hall getting the lunch set out for family and out-of-towners. Faithful friends for 50 years as members of Temple Baptist Church who lovingly shared their skills in assisting our family once again.
These stories along with many e-mails, letters, notes and cards reiterating the strong bond of love that exists among former church members, family and friends reminded me of a theological word—Koinonia-- which means all of the following terms: community, communion, joint participation, intimacy, sharing mutual investment, partnership, interchange, tenderness, compassion, loving, colorful relationships in various environments and situations entwined with personal faith. All this exuding from knowing Jim throughout his adult years, his walk with Christ and genuine concern for all he met and served and those who were meeting in person for the first-time in the context of blending families.
Excerpts from notes this week continue to bear out the warm relationship expressed by Koinonia words.
“I’ve just viewed the memorial service and read the tribute book. Oh, I had forgotten the sense of belonging that came with being a part of Temple Baptist Church. Of course, you and Jim were the team that made that happen…you and Pastor Jim lifted our wings yet drew us together. I’m thankful.” E.
“I’ve just finished watching and listening to the Jim Celebration: In one of his sermons when I was struggling through a divorce and custody situation, Jim was reading from his Bible…’the unsearchable riches of Christ.” He paused, and said, “Just listen to that: unsearchable riches of Christ. Isn’t that something?” Well, I had to dry my eyes, because it made me think about how all that strife that I was going through wasn’t permanent, and I could look forward to those unsearchable riches someday”. D.
“Jim’s memorial service was inspiring and full of hope. I left feeling that I can be a better person, and maybe I can inspire a few others. What a blessing that God brought you two together and you created such a network of goodness. Please convey my thought to all your family.” L.
The Apostle Paul uses Koinonia words several times in the book of Philippians, to describe the relationship that the early church leaders should endeavor to embrace as they work together. Simply put, it’s loving the Lord and those who love the ones you love and being tender, generous, kind and helpful.
Phil. 2:1-2, 5 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,
If any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
(2) Then, make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in Spirit and purpose. (5) In your relationship with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
It has been an unspeakable pleasure to honor my beloved, Jim, who never sought any credit. Thank you for your comfort through love, support and prayers, encouraging me to continue to grow and minister.