There is a scene in one of my all-time favorite movie sagas, Lonesome Dove, where Gustus McCrae (Robert Duvall), a Texas Ranger and a rancher, is required to “say a few words” for a fallen cowboy. The cattle crew has been spooked by the loss of their fellow cowboy. The grief is on every face. They all remove their hats as Gus begins to speak. He talks of the fallen man as being a good cowpoke and pleasant person to have on the trail. Then he says, “When it comes to death there is nothing you can do but get back on your horse and ride away from it.”
When death has taken someone we love, someone who we leaned on for leadership, wisdom, and tireless service, it leaves a hole in the fabric of our community. To lose two such people in less than twenty-four hours changes our lives irrevocably. Those of us who served with Rachel and David had enormous respect for their dedication and professionalism. We liked their pleasantness and their wit as we traveled together. We will both miss their gifts and graces and will remain diminished as a community. We were a far better place with them.
A member wrote recently, “Rachel was a wonderful, caring person. Her strong faith, many skills, strength, and sense of humor all contributed greatly to the fellowship of our church. She was a good friend and I treasure the conversations we had together. We will all miss her. … Yes, she has a wonderful character! Always fun to talk with her. We will miss that character.”
Another said, “David was the kind of friend you would call in the middle of the night when you were stuck or broke down. He had skills he rarely talked about. He was smart, prepared, skillful and best of all extremely humble. I always admired David because of his priorities. It was always God first, family a very close second, and then everything else. He was one of those people I always considered incorruptible. Maybe it was West Point training or maybe West Point knew how to pick them. I will miss David’s support, his wisdom, and his laughter.”
The Choir had much to say concerning the loss of two faithful members. Rev. Gary Grundman called them “the two pillars of the choir” – they were one on the left and one on the right of the choir’s back row.
We will miss them. We will, metaphorically speaking, get back on our horse and ride off, but we begin a new year limping, as Jacob did leaving the Jabbok River. We too will wrestle with God over these losses. May this next year make us stronger and more determined than ever to follow our Savior who is the Lord of Life. Because He lives, so we too, will live.
It’s an honor to be your pastor,