Sunday morning I awoke singing “How Great is Our God,” because of my time spent with the Clinton-Batiste Family. This family sings in joy and in sorrow.
“KC” – this rendition is just for you, by keyboardist Ben Tankard.
Linda’s Celebration of Life ceremony was truly that – A Celebration. In the small sanctuary at Macedonia Baptist Church, we all celebrated her life and her passing. Family members played instruments and sang. The ceremony was humble, and those in attendance were of one mind and Spirit. We sang; we danced; we cried; we laughed; we listened to the wisdom of church elders. The service lasted about 2 and a half hours, but it felt like a singular moment in time.
Probably most impactful to me personally was the way in which the pastors and worship leaders honored Linda but also made sure we all understood one thing: Linda’s Celebration of Life was for The Living, and that is the way she would have wanted it.
To this end, we were all asked to examine our own lives. Do our lives reflect the Lord in the way Linda’s has? Did we learn the lessons she taught us? Do we honor her by living out our faith in word, action and deed? Do we honor her by following the words of wisdom she spoke to us? When Linda and I spoke; I mostly listened, for I knew that her wisdom would bless me and go well beyond anything I could do or say to comfort her.
Pastor Thomas E. Reese, of New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, gave a soul-penetrating sermon. He preached that we could all honor Linda best by living our lives in the way she had – with God as her strength. Having grown up with Linda in DeRidder, LA, Pastor Reese reminded us of something Linda said often when her children or grandchildren came to her with a problem, fear or pain, “Lean into God, Baby. Lean into God” she’d say. That was her way.
Pastor Grady Anderson, recited Psalm 90. The Psalms were written by several different writers. Moses wrote only one of them, Psalm 90. The Psalms were composed during a period of about one thousand years from the time of Moses (about 1500 B.C.) to the time of Ezra (about 450 B.C.).
His reading of this Psalm was of great significance to me, personally, and I’m sure to many others who were there. Through the reading of the Word of God, Pastor Anderson reminded us that if we live “but 70 years,” we are blessed by God. And as the Psalm says, if “due to strength, we live 80 years,” our pride is “but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.”
The reading of the Word impressed upon my heart that Linda, having passed at just 65 years of age, had labored the life of someone who lives to age 80 “due to strength.” I am grateful, then, that she labors no more and that her body, ravaged by mesh and cancer is made whole. She has no more sorrow, no more pain, no more suffering. That is something to celebrate.
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
3 You turn man back into dust
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
4 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night.
5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.
7 For we have been consumed by Your anger
And by Your wrath we have been [i]dismayed.
8 You have placed our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
9 For all our days have declined in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.
10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
11Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
13 Do return, O Lord; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen [r]evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.