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June 27, 2024

| Jim Cantelon |

This past week my wife and I attended not one but three funerals. The first one was for a 97-year-old woman we’ve known for over 50 years. Mother, grand and great mother, she was an elegant, refined, intelligent, and beautiful woman who exemplified the Proverbs 31 paragon of virtue. Her profound faith in the Lord is her lasting legacy, a point stressed again and again by those who delivered eulogies. The service was inspiring.

The second funeral was equally inspiring. This was for an 87-year-old man who I’ve known for most of my life. He was someone whose profound impact on our world through his championing of the poor saw him admired by thousands. Nevertheless his journey had seen much turmoil and failure in the first half of his life, as he himself acknowledged. But tragedy catalyzed the birth of a profound faith in his early 40’s and led to his amazing international impact. The hymns he chose to be sung at his funeral reflected his spiritual depth. We began the service by singing “O love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong…” and then “When I come to die give me Jesus…”.

The third was for a retired Presbyterian pastor with whom I worked 50 years ago with Youth for Christ in Montreal. He spent much of his life in Bahrain pastoring a thriving church and then pastored in western Canada. His ebullient personality and love of worship music had endeared him to his congregations. As we committed his body to the ground the words of one of his favorite hymns resonated,” O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee…”.

What struck me in all three funerals was the powerful impact that men and women of faithful service to God and neighbor have had as they lived out their heavenly calling. Yes, we were confronted with our mortality (as is the case with all funerals) but the palpable presence of the Lord in these memorials predominated. We left all three refreshed and encouraged to continue to pour out our lives for the Kingdom till we die.

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