Shall we gather at the river?

A wonderful old hymn that I have known since childhood. I remember the voices strong and in harmony since the church I was raised in only sang accapella. This hymn about gathering at the river is in reference to John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. Strange as it seemed Jesus felt blessed to be baptized by his friend John.

In light of this I preached this morning referencing the text Matthew 3:13-17. As Jesus was baptized the presence of God was so very real. So I ask, "where does that leave the unbaptized or the one's who do not believe?" I believe our faith carries those people.

My 56 year old brother died this week. Suddenly and alone in his home. He was found in his livingroom in the midst of daily life. He did not go to church, nor did he openly believe. I could go so far as to say he was skeptical about it all. So does he go to heaven?

I believe he did. I believe it because of what happened this week and how I sense the presence of God in the death of my brother. Earlier this week (before we knew my brother had died) I was getting my resources for this morning's service. The resource I use always suggests hymns. So on Tuesday I sent them to my pianist with a star beside a couple of my favorites that were in the suggested list and promptly let it go. He sent me the list of chosen hymns for worship. It was not until I was pulling the service together last night for this morning I had an epiphany. I didn't remember that one of the hymns I had starred and as an old favorite was "Shall we gather at the river" an old Church of Christ hymn. This hymn for this mornings service was so fitting since we hear my brother's wishes are to have his ashes scattered off a bridge into the river.... and people say there is no God....

Matthew 3:14-17 says, .."just as he (Jesus) came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. A voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." I told the congregation that although my brother was not baptized or a church person it is our faith and the faith of those who love him that would take him home. And I believe that in the moment of his death he witnessed just what Jesus did ... I believe the heavens were opened and Brian went home... and God was pleased ...

1 comment:

  1. Cindy...How beautiful! I loved your explanation of people lost. I too believe God makes a place for all his children. Marijo