Sundays are the hardest days for me. My husband was my preacher. I heard him preach his first sermon; actually it was just a devotional, on the upper tennis courts on a Saturday night at Freed-Hardeman College. He was nineteen years old. We weren’t dating then, but we were about to. And I heard him preach his last sermon forty-three years later at a little barn church in Wisconsin, where we had ministered together for the last thirty-seven years. It makes me sad that the one place people go to seek comfort at a time like this only brings me more sorrow. Gary is everywhere there, but nowhere. There’s not a hymn we sing that the Hubs and I haven’t sang together. There’s not a prayer that was prayed in that building that we didn’t hold hands if we were anywhere near each other. We shared communion together every Sunday for the last forty-three years. He was my preacher, my love, my best friend, and my confidant.
Just getting in the car to drive to the church building triggers the tears. By the time I get there all I want to do is sit in the parking lot. Fortunately for me, inside awaits many open arms and loving hearts. It will be my church family that will one day, make ‘going to church’ what it should be again. I long for that day.
But for now I’ve discovered a little trick that helps. Last Sunday on the way to church the sun broke through the clouds in a most beautiful way and I tried to envision where Gary was at that very moment. Was it Sunday WhereEver he is? I think it’s Sunday every day WhereEver, don’t you? I imagined him standing in a chorus right beside Michael, the Archangel. Both are tenors I believe. On his other side stands the apostle who Jesus loved, John. Gary’s favorite as well. Also a tenor. Leading this chorus of angels and ragamuffin disciples is Jesus, very animated and enjoying himself immensely. Gary is smiling and belting out the tenor part of 728B. “There is a God, He is alive!” Gary winks at me and gives me one of his Alabama-boy smiles. Then I notice behind him, with His hands on the Hubs shoulders is Father God Himself—singing tenor of course. Gary is very much at home.
I notice that the Holy Spirit is missing. How I know that, I don’t know, since He’s only described as the Wind, etc., But He’s not there among that jovial chorus. Gary winks at me again and nods. It’s that nod I’ve seen a thousand times before, the nod that always pushed me forward and gave me confidence. “Go on,” he mouths. “You can do this.” Jesus snaps his fingers. He wants Gary’s full attention.
By the time I got to the church building the tears had subsided somewhat. I parked and sat a moment. I suddenly felt a fullness in my heart. I smiled. The Holy Spirit wasn’t missing after all. He’s on the job… in me… with me… yet another promise kept.
I walked up the sidewalk that Gary and I had walked together hand-in-hand a million Sundays in a row. The door opened and inside was my family… waiting.
I thank God for Sundays. I thank Him for a risen, gleeful Savior. And I thank Him for tenors everywhere.