Our Stubborn God
I met Bob at our first wardens meeting when my family and I first came to the parish a year and a half ago. Bob, at the time, was a warden at St. George the Martyr Anglican Church in Magnetawan as well as its treasurer. I was just remarking to Shirley a few days ago about how much one person can do—about how important one person can be in the whole scheme of things and what a gap they can leave when they’ve gone. Well, in our church, with the loss of Bob, he’s left a huge gap. Bob was determined and tireless in his work for the church and for his community—people like Bob are hard to come by. Bob was, to say the least, one of a kind. He was an Anglican’s Anglican. He took his faith seriously and he treated the life of the church as if it were an extension of his very own. He was also inseparable from Shirley—they were a team, a pair in ministry as they were in life.
Bob was also very stubborn. It seems as if it was built into him. Shirley and I spoke about this one day on our way up to see Bob in North Bay as he was fighting his cancer. From our very first meetings, when I first came to the parish, he would stick to his guns, clarify his points, and he would push them through, and he had no problem telling me the way it was—he was indeed a force to be reckoned with! Now some people take stubbornness as a less than desirable quality—but, in the case of Bob, I appreciated Bob’s tenacity—his doggedness; in fact, I think it was a blessing to the church. In other words, Bob was a gift for the church and a gift to his community. I say this because Bob embodied a way of life that reminded me a lot about what we, as Christians, confess about God. I’m not sure Bob knew this or not, and I never did get the chance to tell him—but he knows now—that he reminded me consistently that our God is a stubborn and tenacious God.
The God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of the church is a God who doesn’t let us go despite our faithlessness; God is a God of persistence, a God who will not let his point go; a God who relentlessly pursues us in this life with the light of his love and who catches us up in that love in our deaths. This God is a force to be reckoned with! Bob knows this God and this God knows Bob; and now that he has died into the life of this God, Bob knows this God to be even more stubborn than he was! And thank God for that!
God’s whole point in Jesus Christ is resurrection—the turning of death into life; the miracle of light exploding the darkness of our lives and our deaths. And so, while the death of someone we love, like we loved Bob, is certainly a time for mourning—for mourning a real loss—it is much more deeply a time to celebrate hope; to celebrate the hope that God doesn’t leave us alone, that God is so insistent on his point, so stubborn for us, so unrelenting in getting his way that he won’t leave us alone. He hasn’t left Bob alone and he doesn’t leave you alone Shirley, or your children. He doesn’t leave any of us alone and we thank our stubborn God for that.
Amen & Amen.