Roots in Ripon
Editor's Note: Roots in Ripon was once a regular feature, here. Unfortunately, Chuck has not done anything new for some time and this is the last post on his blog.
of the prime focal points we find in the Bible is the intentional act of
engaging in celebration. This means we are to participate in celebrating every
aspect of life as God has ordained it.
often run into difficulty when life roles us up in troubles of every kind. We
lose perspective on our lives and how Jesus wants us to walk with him. We focus
on the problem, the fear, the loss, the pain, or any other difficulty you would
like to add. I would recommend you take some time to look through the Bible and
see what it says about rejoicing. It will challenge you, trust me!
Philippians 4 we are admonished by the Apostle Paul, who was no stranger to
physical ailments, beatings, stonings, ship wreck, and the like, to, “Rejoice
in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice!”
a minister and chaplain for forty years, I have witnessed the attitudes of
Christians who had failed to connect with rejoicing. It was so clear that those
who made it a point of rejoicing, especially in the hard times, had a
completely different temperament than those who found it difficult to live out
the command to rejoice.
attitude of rejoicing is never more critical than when the death of a loved
one, or close friend occurs. On August 27th, my mother-in-law, Alda Cabral,
passed away at age 85. For the past number of years, she has been dealing with
a number of physical ailments. Her body had finally given up.
Friday we held the funeral service for her at a church in her town of Los
Banos, California, about 55 miles from our home. As the six siblings discussed
the plans for a proper send off, it was emphasized that because their mom had
accepted Jesus as her Savior, the service was to be a celebration!
real cute story best depicts this need to celebrate through rejoicing. The
secretary of this church, whose name is Jen, was wonderful, as well as
graciously patient in helping pull everything together. The youngest of the
siblings is Judy, and this is her church. My mother-in-law attended a
Portuguese church which was some distance away. Jen’s four-year-old daughter
Alice, noticed a sadness about Miss Judy. She said to her mother, “Why is Miss
Judy sad?” Her mother replied, “Miss Judy is sad because her mom has died.” To
which Alice said, “Do you mean she has moved to heaven! Oh! She’s happy in
heaven! I’m going to move to heaven too, but not today.” Out of the mouths of
I am the minister responsible for a funeral I always focus on the joyfulness,
the celebration of the occasion. When I know the person that has died was a
Christian, having accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, it is much easier to
celebrate. When I officiate over a funeral where I am unsure of the person’s
eternal standing with God, it becomes exponentially more difficult.
my wife and her family emigrated to the United States fifty-two years ago, the
weddings and funerals I’m involved with are always bilingual. The Portuguese
pastor, Eugenio Piacentini, and I have performed a total of six
weddings/funerals jointly over the years. I will speak a few words in English,
then pause while he translates into Portuguese. He’s very good, so we move along
quite well. At times I get a bit lively in my delivery, but Eugenio comes right
out with the same energy in Portuguese. A number of folks told us after the
service that we should take our duo on the road! We enjoyed a laugh over that.
of the daughters and two granddaughters each wrote a eulogy which they asked me
to read for them. I enjoyed this part because there were lots of fun
remembrances shared by all of them. There was laughter in the telling of these
stories which has an amazingly positive effect on the whole ceremony. Maggie,
one of the four daughters, had written how much her mom loved to shop at
Gottchalks. Early on after settling in America, Maggie would go shopping at
Gottchalks with her mom. Maggie was able to speak English well enough, whereas
my mother-in-law never quite got the hang of it. But Alda loved to barter. She
told Maggie, “I want to barter with this sales girl.” Maggie responded, “Mom,
you can’t do that! That was fine in the old country, but this is a large corporation!”
Her mom was not deterred, and still attempted to barter price with the sales
at the committal service graveside, I asked the question in my best stentorian
voice, “Where is Alda Cabral? Has anyone seen her? No?” I then went on to
explain that according to Scripture, Alda is in heaven. And that is cause for
makes this promise to all believers in John 14, “In my Father’s House are many
rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a
place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and
take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
is cause for great rejoicing, and eternal praise and celebration! Four-year-old
Alice has that all figured out. Do you?
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