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Life in Greencastle

About a week ago, I entered our church parlor accompanied by Pam Anderson. Pam and I were met by a host of other women, talking and enjoying some snacks. We were gathering for a bible study - an exploration of Luke's themes of rest and release. Before we dug into God's Word, though, we shared some news with one another. Included in the news was the sober reality of Barbara Silander's declining health. As I talked about my last visit with Barbara Silander, Barbara Bates spoke up ... "You do know that Barbara was a poet, don't you?"

'No," I said. And before I could say another word, Barbara Bates handed me a collection of poems that Barbara Silander had written.

As the women continued to talk about Barbara Silander - remembering and celebrating all that she has done for us - I took to reading through a few of the poems. I was immediately impressed with the precise beauty, the thriftness of thought, the truth of the emotions. And, I discovered this poem from Barbara, which I shared with the group of women (and that I share with you):

The Faithful
Barbara Silander

The messages
That come to us
From the Bible
Tell us about
A Loving God
Who is open
To change
And is a God
Of expectations

Is this a desire
From God
For our church?
To do service
And to gather
People who may need us
Do we need to know
Ourselves and
To know our talents
Accept our differences
Has God
Given us the tools
To achieve
This desire
For our church?

The leadership
Must be strong
Coming from God
Who can guide us
Being patient
And humble
God can empower us
To be enthusiastic
And to know
That we must plan
To carry out
This vision
With leadership
From the young and older
To be flexible
Listening to different ideas
New ideas.

This vision
Will take courage
Our leadership
Can come
From a loving God
A loving, caring minister
And a loving
Devoted congregation.

I am particularly struck by Barbara's list of questions in the second stanza: "Is this a desire from God? To do service and to gather people who may need us? Do we need to know ourselves? And to know our talents, accept our differences? Has God given us the tools to achieve this desire for our church?"

Barbara Silander died this past Tuesday, and we even now celebrate her life. We thank God for the gift she was to us as a church and as a community. And, we thank God that she now has overcome death through the power and grace of Jesus Christ.

But there is more. We also thank God that Barbara's life serves as a testimony of how we too might live out our faith. Her life now joins that great "cloud of witnesses" that cheers us on as we move along our journey we call living.

And, she has left us with some important questions - an incredibly powerful gift. Do we know ourselves? Are we able to accept our talents and our differences? Will we move out of ourselves for the sake of those who need us? Will God send us? Will we go?

Let us pray that the answer would once again be, "Yes!"

Barbara is right ... God is God of love, God of expectations. And I am reminded of God's great expectations for us ... that we would be held in God's love and sent out to embrace others.

May your own life be open to the expectations of God, and may you answer God's invitation with a hopeful, persistent "Yes!"

Wes

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