We had a neat service at church today. By church, I'm referring to Fresh Faith in Portland. I usually only attend when my daddy is preaching there, and then try to attend New Heights in Vancouver with Chris on the off weeks. This week, however, Jeffy (my brother) and Andy, (my second cousin/adopted brother) read scripture before the congregation and lit candles for advent. Then, Andy played Jingle Bells on his Cello and I didn't want to miss that.
Sadly, two days ago, a member of Fresh Faith, Felix, passed away. He was about 80 years old and had been on dialysis and had just undergone an operation to remove a baseball-sized tumor. He didn't last through recovery. But as Peter announced, he has received his reward.
Everyone made sure to hug John, Felix's son, and his wife Jody...and Felix also has 2granddaughters who attend Fresh Faith. We hugged and cried and came alongside each other for comfort. Felix was loved by everyone. He was a sweet old man who sometimes fell asleep during the sermon while leaning forward on his cane. He had a wry sense of humor and a big heart.
Fresh Faith is a small church of about 40. Offerings barely support our senior pastor, Peter Warner, who has been my mentor since I was 13 years old. (He officiated out wedding in 1998.) Every couple months or so, a new face appears and we grow in size a bit, but mainly, it's just our tight knit group. This is especially wonderful when someone passes, or if there is a tragedy in someones life. We love each other and we cry together and it's just what we do.
2 years ago, when Laurie began chemo, Fresh Faith put a basket at the front of the church for people to fill with food, toiletries and even gift cards for Laurie and her kids while she was out of work. Laurie didn't attend the church and only my parents, who attended, knew her. They didn't care. There was a need.
When our friend Amy Brown was ill with colorectal cancer, she visited Fresh Faith, where Peter and my Dad, along with others, laid hands on her, anointing her with oil as the Bible teaches and prayed over her with the congregation. No one knew her, they just felt the need and acted upon it.
All of this to say, I love this group of people and today was another reminder of how wonderful it is to gather with people who have a love for God. We might not have the numbers or the income, but we definitely have shown that we can be Christ's hands and feet to others. For this, I am so thankful.