A week ago it was my honor and challenge to preach at the memorial service for a woman who became a dear friend to me. She died a few days before her 74th birthday after slowly declining from dementia. We met when she was the office administrator for the Synod Office and I was the director of our Synod’s church camp.
Many times she came to my aid – helping with administrative details, reminding me to register for major events at which I and the camp needed to be present. One year she and others even organized a second Synod Assembly just to focus on issues related to the future of the camp. Organizing one Synod Assembly a year is daunting enough. To pull off a second one was way above and beyond the call of duty.
When I left the camp and moved into Houston I was delighted to learn that she and her husband were members of the church I chose to join. Then we became friends, meeting occasionally for coffee or lunch and frequently visiting at church. We went to a book signing together for an author we both admired. We led a Divorce Recovery group for our church together.
When I was between places and situations I even lived with them for a short period of time.
So it was both a great honor and a great challenge to preach at her memorial service. Mostly it was an honor. Joyce truly lived the good life. If we measure “good” in terms of people whose lives are better for having crossed paths with her. She isn’t well known beyond the circle of Lutheran clergy in this Synod and in her congregation and neighborhood. She wasn’t wealthy. But she was loved. Oh my, how she was loved. Her husband took care of her until almost the very end. He only gave up caring for her at home when an accident sent him to the hospital and then rehab. She had to go to an assisted living facility in his absence. Watching the care he poured out for her was inspiring. Seeing her light up when he was with her was heart-warming.
In an age when there is so much bickering, complaining, criticizing, and anxiety, it was truly an honor and privilege to be one small part of this couple’s life together.
Well done good and faithful servants – both of you. Rest in peace, Joyce. Thank you Greg for the many ways you revealed the love of Christ through your care for Joyce.