The Old Fool has a draft of a post that is ready to be polished a bit and be posted this evening. But he began thinking about Rhoda. (Part of yesterday was a memorial service.) So this evening he got out the DVD of Rhoda’s memorial service here at College Mennonite Church. He listened to it more closely than ever before. He remembered the wishes of some who could not be here in person and his promise to try to post it on his website. The Old Fool must explore vimeo services.
Time is moving quickly toward November 7, the date that would have been Rhoda’s 86th birthday. Then comes family memories of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of the precious days before Rhoda slipped away from us on January 3. The first anniversary of that night will soon be here, too.
Perhaps that is why The Old Fool has joined two grief support groups. Both are just beginning. One is offered by Yoder Culp, the funeral home that helped us through that difficult period. The resource persons are Conrad Showalter and his wife, both trained therapists. Conrad is a brother of Richard and Nathan Showalter whom I know. Their father, David Showalter, is ninety and still lives in Tennesee, if the old fool remembers correctly. Conrad’s mother’s name was Rhoda. There are eleven of us who are telling stories of the passing of a loved one.
The second grief support group is offered by College Mennonite Church. The leader is Rachel Hartzler, a long term member of the church whose husband died suddenly a few years ago. Since then she has taken theological training at AMBS and was ordained as a minister. She has asked us to bring a photo of the one who left us. The Old Fool has decided to take two: the first and last pictures of Rhoda.
After listening to the DVD of Rhoda’s CMC memorial service, The Old Fool also listened to major portions of an audio recording of the memorial service for Willis (Bill) Brechbill. Bill devoted his life to the Mennonite church, serving as pastor of numerous churches, as conference minister of two conferences, and as a denominational leader.
But, Bill was given the gift of a lesbian daughter and he chose to continue to love and defend her. So, the church could no longer use his many leadership gift. The Old Fool was privileged to be present at his memorial service. As he listened, he was filled again with a sad anger because the church would not heed Bill’s pleas on behalf of all believing gays and lesbians.
Bill asked the minister to speak from Romans 14. The chapter begins with this idea: “Welcome those who are weak in faith.” He suggested that the first point of the sermon be that the Mennonite Church is troubled by many little things don’t matter. The Old Fool wishes that the whole church could have heard the testimony of Bill’s life.