Today, we laid our brother Harold to rest with a beautiful celebration of his life.
In the first few moments, your eyes play tricks on you. You're almost certain you see the man breathing. A little flinch in his eyes, maybe. A twitch of his hands. Your heart is ready to believe that the universe realizes its terrible mistake or that everyone's in on some grand practical joke and at any moment, he's going to sit straight up and ask you what you're all so bothered about.
But in a day like today, you realize that body isn't moving, but the man is very much alive. That room was filled to overflowing with Harold. It was a room filled with family, friends, and strangers. A room to which you've all been drawn by your love for this man, but perhaps more than that, you've been drawn by having been loved by him.
We sat there this morning in true Harold fashion - his life speaking while we spoke the words for him. Sharing stories about this moment with him or that moment with him, talking about his skydiving trip or the way he loved to craft with his hands. How he preferred to store an extension cord or the bizarrely odd hours he kept and called on friends. All swirling in the midst of these lives who know a little more Jesus because we've known a little more Harold.
We worshiped with some beautiful music, and in times of grief, it's hard to think worship could be so enticing, so inviting, so....apt. And yet, we were all drawn in by it. By the words of tasting heaven, of hearing God's voice, of meeting Jesus. Knowing it is well.
Pondering what our brother is finding in eternity. Knowing he's stoked to find it all finally before his eyes, remembering the absolute assurance he had that such a place exists and that such a God would be calling him there. Knowing he's probably still looking for someone to tell all about it...even though they likely already know.
And thinking about his amen. About how for so many years, Harold sat in the second row (but nobody ever sat in front of him) shouting out an Amen for a song, a prayer, or a speaker, unashamed to do so. That amen was Harold's gift to those using their gifts in the service; hearing that simple word put things in perspective. It encourages and energizes and somehow affirms what you're doing up there with what God has given you. Harold's amen...
That amen was Harold's gift to his congregation, too. To those of us who have a propensity to sometimes let our minds wander, to be thinking about the things that aren't what worship is about, to be almost deaf to the word of God in the worries of our world or whatever we'd bring in with us on Sunday mornings. Sitting in that purple chair, when you heard Harold's amen, you woke up a little bit. You started paying a little more attention. Listening a little harder. Looking for what God was doing, what your heart was about to hear. Because you were sure you were about to hear something...it seemed inevitable; you heard the amen. And that amen in itself was so authentic, so un-self-conscious, so freely given and gut-reactive that as soon as you heard it, you sensed that God was there. Something in your heart told you He was there. And you just looked up and started thirsting for Him. Because you knew He was close.
We need a few more amens like that in our world. Do you think between you and I, we could give them?
Today was a bittersweet day. Beautiful. Holy. Tinged with grief. Saturated with love.
Thank you to Harold's family - to his wife, his children, his brothers - for sharing today with us. We were honored to share today with you. Thank you to Harold's extended family - his brothers and sisters by love - for sharing your stories with us. We were grateful for the chance to share ours, too.
And thank you to Harold's Father - beloved Jesus, indescribable God - for sharing Harold with us. We have been blessed to know him.