“You have to see this,” he said, sliding into the bleacher seat next to mine. He handed me his phone and I stared at the picture on the screen. The music from our daughter’s gymnastics competition blared in the background as I tried to decipher what I was staring at.
“Who are those people?” I asked, handing the phone back to him. My husband’s eyes filled with tears.
“They’re from my parent’s Sunday School class. They’re standing outside mom and dad’s house right now in the freezing cold, praying.”
“How many people are there?” I asked, a lump forming in my throat.
“They think about 70 people.”
My father-in-law was six months into his battle with lung cancer, and it wasn’t going well. The side effects of chemo had ravaged his body, leaving him weak and frail, a shell of the larger than life man he’d once been.
That was when community stepped up. As the cancer progressed, my in-law’s class rose up and poured over and into their mentors. They brought meals, they gathered on the snow-covered lawn and bathed Herb and Barbara in prayer. They filled the gap, because that’s what community does.
That’s what the Church does.
For years, my father-in-law led a class for younger married couples in their church. He was such a popular teacher that the younger marrieds grew into older marrieds, and the class continued to expand, all of them coming to soak up the Word from Herb Stuart.
But their leader was fading.
Shortly before Christmas, several leaders from the class came to visit with Herb. His voice was weak as he spoke, and he shared his hopes for what would likely be his final holiday. He told them of his greatest joy through the years – the pleasure he found in blessing us, his children.
Every year, Herb started saving all his quarters on January 1. Throughout the year, he would constantly ask for change in quarters, until he had a heavy bag full of change at Christmas. This was when Barbara took over and put together a grand scavenger hunt for her grown boys and their spouses.
We’d tear through the house finding clues that eventually led us to the bag of coins, which we then counted out and split between us all.
But this past year it just hadn’t worked out. Herb’s focus was on fighting cancer. He couldn’t gather quarters, and he shared with the leaders of his class how he wished he could have seen his kids count out quarters one more time.
Leaving his house, one of the men sent a text to his wife telling her he wanted to help. “Let’s see if we can get enough quarters for the Stuarts to have one more scavenger hunt.”
Within a matter of a few hours, the class had donated over $700, which they took to the bank and exchanged for quarters.
It was the grandest scavenger hunt we’ve ever had, and the portions that Lee and I got to take home were the exact amount we would need to cover one of our plane tickets back to Arkansas 10 days after Christmas for Herb’s funeral.
Community is a beautiful extension of God’s goodness. When the body of Christ comes together, the Spirit led goodness of His Grace is poured out upon us all. <<<<< Tweet this!
Herb’s hope, his dream if you will, for his final Christmas was a seemingly simple one. He just wanted to enjoy the life, love, and laughter of his family. He wanted the comfort of the familiar.
Because of the love of a great community of believers, because of the Church, we made a Christmas memory that will carry us until the day we see Herb again.
There is Grace in community, and glorious beauty in the unification of God’s children. I’ve seen it in action, held it in my hands. The rattle of the quarters was a melody unlike any other.
It was the melody of love.
Shared By: Kelli Stuart