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Two prayers resonate with me this week as I mourn the death of one of my Stephen Ministry Care Receivers.   

Remember thy servant Alan, O Lord, according to the favor which thou bearest unto thy people; and grant that, increasing in knowledge and love of thee, he may go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service in thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of all comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

He was amazing during his battle against the disease taking his body.  When I began my visits in August 2006, he was under Hospice care but I found him "living with cancer", not dying from it.  It had affected him physically, but his spirit was inspiring - friendly, warm and comforting.  I offered him Christ's Love through a simple ministry of presence.  I carried to him news of our church, copies of Sunday service bulletins and sermons recently preached, and we would share Home Communion.  He and his bride of almost 49 years had moved far outside the Capital Beltway on the I-66 corridor, so distance and the resulting commute restricted my visits to every other week.  The weeks in-between were phone calls to keep in touch and stay connected.  On Holy Saturday before Easter, a terrible fall landed him in the hospital.  Sadly after that, his decline was quick and his passing ultimately a blessing.  He is whole again, no longer in pain, finally released of his affliction, and perfect in God's eyes.  He has moved on to that better place we all hope to know for ourselves some day.  While I sorrow over his passing, I offer thanks he was healed through death.  I pray he "may go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service in thy heavenly kingdom ".  

During my last visit with him, we discussed decisions needed to leave his loved ones the gift of knowing his desires and wishes.  Only through God's Grace was it not as difficult as I imagined it would be. God's abiding presence was with us in that little room as we talked of his Requiem.  Today at the church with his family and one of our priests, we planned his service.  Again I felt that presence of God through the empathy shown by our Assistant Rector.  She comforted them and me, and they comforted us.  I witnessed the true meaning of "Deal graciously, we pray thee, with all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love".

Going from strength to strength.  God bless you, Al.  Casting every care on thee.  Thank you, God.