Good Luck, Chuck–November 6, 2011

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I met him once about two years ago for just a brief encounter, so I was stunned when my son, Jerrod, called me and told me that he had passed away from complications due to surgery over a leg injury. He was a little younger than me–vibrant and alive–and even now it is difficult to imagine him in repose.

I meet lots of people. Candidly, I don’t remember most of them because they really don’t desire to be remembered by me. They fail to do the things human beings must do in order to be recalled.

Not so with Chuck. Chuck did do the three things necessary to impact another fellow-traveler and leave  a lasting imprint.

First, he was kind to me. Kindness may be the most underrated virtue available in the arsenal of interaction, people-to-people. What is kindness? Kindness is when we admit that we know what human beings need because we are one and instead of withholding that blessing from another individual out of suspicion or caution, we freely give that which we have freely received from God. Chuck greeted me warmly, he embraced me and he smiled. In that moment, he did not know for sure whether I was saint or sinner, blessed or defiled or of any advantage to him one way or another. He met me, realized that I liked “me,” and decided to be kind to that me. My dear friends, that is huge. Kindness is never wasted, even when it’s bestowed upon those who are less-than-worthy. But he didn’t stop there.

Secondly, he was interested in “my self.” What I mean is, he realized I was a traveler passing through his community and he wanted to make sure that my basic needs, concerns and feelings were taken into consideration. He asked me what kind of food I liked because he was going to suggest a restaurant. He asked if I was comfortable in my lodging, knowing that rest is a good portion of success. In his maturity, he realized that I had a “self,” and rather than ignoring it, he reached out to minister to it. He established that he was as interested in my “self” as I was–or at least willing to participate in my needful concerns about it.

And third, he was involved with “mine.” Even though he, himself, was a musician and worship leader in a fairly large church, he sat quietly and listened to our sound check, admiring our capabilities and commenting on the material. Every creative being wants to hear comment on both color and content. It’s just the way we are. Some people may call it flattery. Others may insist that they do not compliment effort because God should receive the glory. But it is not up to you or me to decide such matters. We are to praise the hands that have prepared the benefit–and leave it to them to give the glory to God.

He was a smart man, this Chuck. The kingdom of God is diminished by losing such fellows, because even though he was employed in the midst of more Neanderthal individuals in a field that often ignores the personal in favor of the eternal, he had discovered the magic of ministry, which is very simple: human beings need human contact to actually believe there’s a God.

Even though I only met Chuck once, I will miss him. I will miss a great human spirit who was kind to me, interested in “my self” and involved in “mine.” It is the essence of divine magic.

So on this Sunday morning, I say, “Good luck, Chuck.”

I am not trying to trivialize his journey, but rather, give a very human farewell to one who is now an eternal traveler. I will try to do him justice by taking the people I meet and with each and every one, be kind to their “me,” interested in their “my self,” and involved in all they consider to be their “mine.”

It was learned at the Master’s feet, where my friend, Chuck, now has now received the blessing of abiding.

***************

Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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