Preparing for Worship – Doug Haney, associate pastor.
Our Granny Haney lived in a small brick home around the corner from our house situated at the end of a dead-end street in Alpharetta, Georgia. To get to her house my siblings and I cut across the garden that adjoined the backyards of our home and hers. On Saturdays my brother or I cut her grass. It was not a hard job; the yard was small, and she paid us a few dollars. But the real reward was yet to come: a glass of her sweet tea and spending time with her. She sat in her rocking chair in the corner of the den, and we sat at an old table. Often she laid her Bible on the kitchen countertop beside her rocker, setting it aside to give us her best attention. We knew our grandmother loved God and loved us. We told her about our lives and the childish things children do. Her high-pitched chirping laugh was a sign of her delight in us.
In high school and college, and later when Lori and I moved to Fort Worth for seminary, the visits became less frequent but no less special. When it was time to leave there was always a tender hug and a blessing that I came to relish: “I pray for you every day.”
Granny died in 1999 at age 82. She had lived a full life. Our family gave thanks for this saintly life well lived, and we grieved. Laurie Taylor often says, “The deeper the love, the deeper the grief.” There was an empty seat at the table and an empty place in our hearts.
At that time I was minister of music at Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. One day I was having coffee with a choir member, Nancy, who was also the grandmother to a member of our Youth Choir. Nancy asked about the funeral and how I was. I said, “I miss her very much, and I’m realizing one of the things that saddens me is that I knew she prayed for me every day — and now that is no longer so.” Nancy looked up from her coffee and said, “How do you know she no longer prays for you?” I sat in silence wondering at the wisdom of my friend and remembering that “love is strong as death.”
Today is All Saints Sunday. In worship today we read the names of the Wilshire saints who have gone to be with the Lord this past year, and we hear the mournful tolling of the chime. In spite of the shadow of grief, we also remember with thanks the saints, our parents and grandparents in the faith, who have loved us and taught us to love God and God’s world.
— Doug Haney