To you who have been praying for me...

I'm taking a break in regularly scheduled liturgical writing in this blog to respond to a significant change in my life--the full effects of which I am not sure I have experienced: the death of my father. On March 23, 2016 in the early hours of around 2-3am, he lost his life due to complications with COPD, and also likely connected to his ongoing struggle with Primary Lateral Sclerosis--a neuromuscular disease that likely weakened his diaphragm which only further complicated the episodes of acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (AECB) that he was experiencing periodically over the past year. His final moments were abrupt and unexpected for my family, making the past week or so one of the most unique emotional experiences I have ever had in my life.

The butterfly in this picture was stubborn like Papa; it was flicked away many times and kept landing on his head. A picture had to be taken. Our family found this to be the most appropriate photo for the obituary.

I traveled home to a place called Horsepasture, VA, and officiated my father's funeral. I couldn't ignore the thinness of the veil that accompanied many moments I had over the past week: mourning with an extended family--many of whom I had not seen for years; assuming a role in my family that provided comfort in a way no one else felt capable of giving; revisiting a moment that has been vital in my call to ministry--the Moravian Easter Sunrise Service; writing the funeral sermon on the morning of Easter; leading my first funeral service; preaching a sermon from the pulpit that I had looked to for years as a child; singing a cappella the song that I believe is the most appropriate thing to sing at any funeral: "My Shepherd will Supply My Need" (to the tune of RESIGNATION); to scattering dust on the casket containing my father's remains and commending him to the welcoming arms of God.

I still am not sure if I fully understand grief. I don't know if I have skipped steps in some linear process or if I now have an old friend who will consistently pay visits for the rest of my life. I do know that I feel more tender--more bruised and less strong. I worry that I will encounter regrets that I had not considered as I proceed through life. I don't know what it will be like to have moments where I will forget that Papa is dead and experience the painful reminder of reality.

I have certainly felt the presence of so many praying for me; of the incredible support of my colleagues where I work allowing their music minister to leave church and miss Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter; of a family who is proud of me and loves me; of a wife who incredibly supported not only me, but was a pastoral presence to my entire family for more than four days; and the incredible work of the Holy Spirit who breathed words and a voice into me during the funeral that I can't credit to myself. 

I can't express enough how grateful I am for the support of so many who have offered prayers and words of condolence: colleagues in ministry, childhood friends, friends from all across the country. I find myself humbled beyond belief to consider it all.

Thank all of you who spared a prayer or thought for me. I treasure every single one of them.


  1. It was an honour to remember you and your family on this Easter week end Ben. Christ is risen. Alleluia.

  2. You are a grown man Ben. Clearly a good strong grown man. Thank your father for that. He was a good man. You are the proof. Uncle Jon :)


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