I had been called over to her house by her sister. She had taken a turn for the worse, she said. Could you come over and and give her communion?
I had been visiting her for several months. She had been fighting cancer for several years, and had been in remission. But now there was nothing more they could do. The first time I visited, she told me that she was so grateful that she would be able to stay in her home, that hospice would visit her and keep an eye on her where she was. She told me she was not afraid to die.
"The thing is, I've been walking with Jesus my whole life," she told me. I believed her. She is one of the most gracious people I have ever met. She knows how to see the beauty in the world, but not be tempted by the cruelty in the world.
When I came over that afternoon, her sister was with her. We all visited together and had communion. And at one point she said, "I have my sermon all written."
I wasn't sure what she meant. "She means her obituary," her sister told me. That made sense.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized -- she was right the first time. She did have her sermon all written. She had been walking with Jesus her whole life. She had done some ordinary things, lived and worked in Africa for many years, cared for her nieces and nephews. She had loved and been loved.
Someone told me that St. Francis of Assisi once said, "Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." It seems to me that our lives are a sermon. Tears, doubts, laughter, adventure, routine, twists and turns. God is in all of the chapters, though sometimes (or often) hidden. The last chapter belongs to God.
Her sister came in today with the obituary and all of the scriptures and all of the hymns already chosen. Even the preaching text: John 15:5. "I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who are abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing."
She has her sermon all written. God is in all of the chapters.