So, I find myself at one of those junctions of life that transcend roles and relationships, a place that connect us all with fact of humanity. Here I am as a pastor, experiencing the graduation of a life to the life beyond death, from both sides of the experience. I am a pastor to Bonnie and my family, as well as a husband, father and son. The reality we call life changes all the time for people around us, and the task we have before us is to learn to live with the changes in the reality of life. The reality includes all the negative things like death, diagnosis of illness, financial ruin and insecurity, relational distress, as well as all the positive things and celebrations we hold dear – the successes of life. In these times of reality it is not about roles or titles, we unite in the commonness of experience. This church has had its fair share of tough experiences as well as most of us here. What are the constants we share, the things that remain beyond all the change, all the successes and failures?

One of these foundational things is God’s presence. God made a promise to Joshua that rings true down through the ages, and that is true for you and I. In Joshua 1:9 God challenges Joshua with the words, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I spent the night before last in a quiet room with my mother-in-law waiting for her husband, a man I called dad, to breathe his last. I had hymns playing through the night on my phone, but when the time came for frank to pass I was praying with Dorothy God’s peace in his passing. As I looked at Frank I knew while his body was there, his spirit, the breathing part of him was experiencing God’s presence in a way we can only imagine. I also understood he was greeting his son and grandson, that all was made right in God’s presence. And so we continue to strive through life having said goodbye to our loved ones, our husbands and wives, our own parents and even some of our children – and in this time we have before we are reunited with them, we rest in God’s presence, knowing that He walks with us and talks with us along the way; knowing He guides our steps until our last breath; knowing nothing happens beyond His knowing. And He is the great High Priest, the one well acquainted with sorrow. And so out of my understanding and experience, I wish you God’s presence. Scott Wesley brown wrote a simple song that describes this sentiment:

I could wish you joy and peace
To last a whole life long
I could wish you sunshine
Or a cheerful little song
Or wish you all the happiness
That this life could bring

But I wish you Jesus
But I wish you Jesus
But I wish you Jesus, more than anything

I could wish you leaves of gold
And may your path be smooth
I could wish you treasures
Or that all your dreams come true
And I could wish you paradise
May everyday be spring

But I wish you Jesus
But I wish you Jesus
But I wish you Jesus, more than anything

Cause when I wish you Jesus
Well I’ve wished you everything!

Scott Wesley Brown/Universal Music

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 11:39-12:1 Another constant we share is the heritage, the legacy we have of our faith – the presence of those who have gone before us. Hebrews 11 talks about people in the Biblical record who gave their life to and for the gospel. They set the standard, the example for us to follow. Not only that but they are pictured as cheering us on. If you have ever watched a Rider’s game you know what the Scripture is talking about. Frank and those who have gone before us are cheering us on with the legacy they have left us. I few weeks ago I went to pick up Frank for a doctor’s appointment, and he was talking to a young guy who was painting the metal stairs beside their patio. He was asking him about life and his church experience. Frank told him he needed to get back to church – he needed to meet Jesus. That short conversation Frank had with that young man was only one stop on his spiritual journey. I don’t know what the outcome of that journey will be, and Frank will never have another opportunity; but he took the opportunity that was there. And maybe this week it will be his neighbour Al who shares Jesus with that worker. Frank’s life is more than just memories in my head. His life is weaved into the kingdom of God which extends into all eternity.

Your life is being weaved into eternity in the same way. Your presence here this morning is part of that weaving, as is what you do on Tuesday, what you did last Wednesday. You make a difference just by being who you are with us today. You are laying down a legacy, a heritage as you go throughout each day. Christ is at work in you, and the Holy Spirit is making you more like Jesus Christ. In that transformation your life joins with those in the celestial stands, cheering on those who are following you in the faith. Your life becomes an example of what God can do in and through a person. There are people that relate the Christian experience to a love relationship with Jesus. You here about that “personal relationship”, you sing words like “your name is like honey on my lips”, but God is much more than relationship. He has given us a mission, and holds a vision before us of what He is doing in us and through us. We are soldiers of the cross. We take up that cross, deny ourselves and follow Him. We seek the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. We stand firm in the spiritual warfare clad in the Amour of God while the fiery darts of the enemy fly all around us. We hold high the sword of truth as we march on the gates of hell.

In Ezekiel we find God looking for a few good men and women who will stand in the gap of the breached wall, who will hold the enemy back. Ezekiel records that God found no one willing to step forward. God is still looking over the earth for those who would step up to the battle. He calls for those who will wrestle in prayer for the souls of those who are lost. He calls for those who will step forward and give of their time, their talents, their money their resources for the Kingdom. The High King, the King of Kings asks for your presence to join the ranks of those gone before us to make a difference in this world until we breathe our last. Franks has breathed his last and now resides in the presence of God. His work is done, finished, as Jesus’ was some 2,000 years ago. While we have breath, may we all seek the kingdom of God here on earth as it is in Heaven.

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