Wednesday, February 25, 2015

All Things Must Pass

My Aunt Dot Abbott—I have to be specific because I also have an Aunt Dot Mulling—died last Friday, February 20. Aunt Dot was my aunt because she was married to my Uncle Sandy, my mother’s only brother.

My father had a big family; there were ten siblings in it. My mother, on the other hand, had only her sister Clara and her brother Sandy.

As I spoke at Aunt Dot’s funeral last Sunday I reminisced about my growing up years, years of which she was a vital part. I talked about how when Mama’s side of the family got together for Christmas it wasn’t a very big group; it consisted of Granny and Papa, Aunt Clara and Uncle Troy, Uncle Sandy and Aunt Dot and their daughters Denise and Rhonda (who were like big sisters to me), and Mama and Daddy and me.

With the passing of Aunt Dot only Rhonda and I remain from that family. We observed at the graveside that it’s down to our generation and that we would really like to take a break of a few decades before we have another funeral. Both Rhonda and I have been blessed with families of our own and we are very grateful for both the family we have and for the family we used to have.

It’s strange, though, when the last one of a generation in a family dies--and that’s what has happened with the passing of Aunt Dot. But all things must pass—people pass, generations pass, and eras pass. It is the way of the world. It is God’s way for us.

Soon my time as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, Georgia will pass, too as I retire from full-time pastoral ministry and move on to become a Curriculum Editor with Smyth & Helwys Publishing. Soon the period of my ongoing contact with the First Baptist Church family and of our mutual nurturing of each other will pass.

There is sadness and anxiety in such passing. But there is also promise and hope and potential; after all, who knows what God is getting ready to lead all of us into as we move into the future? We can’t help but experience some grief but I hope we’ll experience a lot more wonder and trust.

All things must pass. Well, all things except for one thing—love never passes. We who remain of her family still love Aunt Dot and I believe that somewhere and somehow she still loves us. As Debra and I prepare to move on to the next chapter in our life, we will still love the people of First Baptist Church (as we still love the people in all the places we have lived and served) and they will still love us.

That’s because, as the Apostle Paul said, “Love never ends.”

Thanks be to God!

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