Sunday, September 5, 2010

The End of an Era

I learned yesterday that Elizabeth died.

Who is Elizabeth? She was one of the members of the congregation I first served out of seminary, Holy Trinity in Yonkers, NY. But not just one of the members. Right after my installation, she asked my mother if she could adopt me as a son, since she had been given three daughters but no sons. She was my first pastoral visit later that week. She befriended my wife and showed her around Yonkers - even the pretty seedy parts. She was always at church doing something - weeding the gardens, cleaning, fixing. She always baked a cake and brought it to every funeral viewing. She came to every Bible Class with her list of questions from her devotional readings - often written on the back of a receipt from a store, or something like that! She loved to laugh and make others laugh. She loved her Lord and loved her church, and couldn't picture being anywhere else. She was a tough old Slovak who lived a tough life and wouldn't have had it any other way. She prayed for years that her husband would join the church and kneel beside her at the altar. He did, and now she has gone to be with him with her dear Saviour.

She cried when I accepted the call to serve the saints at St. Athanasius. She still called from time to time to check up on us. When I first left, she told me she wanted me to come back and do her funeral. That changed, for she received a better pastor now than I. But I also told her then that I wouldn't, because she had told me before that she was going to be buried naked, for "naked she came, and naked she would go." I told her I didn't want to see that! :-) She died Friday night from a heart problem - I think I shall call it a broken heart. Why? Well, her congregation recently voted to leaved the SELC District of the LCMS (the old "Slovak district") and join the Atlantic District. I do not condemn them for that decision, and pray that it work out well for them. But I'm sure it saddened Elizabeth, and broke her heart.

Now she has joined the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven around the throne of the Lamb in heaven. I am so happy for her. She knew much sadness here on earth. She will know such joy there. She sang in my choir in Yonkers while we had it, always telling me that her voice wasn't very good and that other pastors didn't let her sing in their choirs! Now what a choir she is a part of! I will think of her today during the Divine Service when we sing the Sanctus, that she has taken her place beside my own mother, on the "other side" of the altar.

Rest in peace, dear Elizabeth. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!" (Revelation 14:13)

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