When my Dad left the Presbyterian ministry over a decade ago, after 42 years in the pulpit, he began to send Bible verses to all the children in the family...and I mean everyone, young and old. There were over a dozen kids on the email list. They were simple, quick emails, always with an underlying message of immersing your life in the faith.
I began to appreciate the verses more and more as time went on.
Yesterday, the verses stopped.
My father succumbed to the virus.
My Dad was a mountain, an iconic figure in the pulpit. He would routinely bring people to tears.
I surprised him at a service late last year, where he filled in for a minister who was sick in a small town an hour's drive away. He was 83 and when he held the communion tray, he shook so much I was worried he would drop it.
It was amazing the amount of people who came up to me afterwards and told me 'how uplifting and powerful your Dad's sermon was'. 'Powerful' was always the word they used.
"It is obvious he is a man of God," they would say.
I can remember as a child, growing up in Mississippi in the 1960s. I would find bullets on the nightstand beside his bed. I never understood why until much later, when I discovered he had been speaking out against racism from the pulpit and received death threats from the KKK, and had to carry a gun for protection.
I can remember late at night as a child, when people would call him, when they had no where else to turn, for food, shelter, dealing with grief. He would always help them.
He was always a strong conservative and a good Republican. I remember as a child the Christmas cards from The White House from Nixon and then Ford. They came every December.
His hero was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis, speaking truth to power.
We always lived humbly, no mansions for sure. Maybe an old camper trailer or two.
We didn't always get along. I regret that.
But, I always knew the door was open at home. ALWAYS.
My Dad taught me much, like how to try and be the very best at what you do in life.
He taught me you can go anywhere in a book.
He taught me that evil can't stop the march of God to heal this world. I know that now.
He died peacefully with a dozen grandchildren around him.
I will truly miss him, but now it is my turn to fight the evil before us, with no fear, immersed in the faith.
I will pass it on.
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