Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Two-fold Tribute

After staff meeting yesterday morning I drove to Charleston. As I got to Interstate 26 I hit the rain. But it was a gentle rain, and actually it was kinda nice driving in it. I even cracked open the window to enjoy the "smell" of the rain.

I was back in Charleston to visit a member in the hospital, and to attend the memorial service for a colleague, the Rev. Chad Davis. Chad was the Columbia District Superintendent when I came into the ministry. He was a personable and direct leader, devoted to the church and to addressing the social concerns of his generation.

Historic Trinity UMC on Meeting Street, where Chad served as pastor in the early 70's, was filled with ministers, family, friends, and one special person. That was the mother of Jason Yandle, a young man who tragically died in 1993 at the age of 16. Jason's donated heart was transplanted to replace Chad's diseased heart, giving Chad another 14 years of life, service, and grandparenting.

From the stirring strains of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God to the closing affirmation of Amazing Grace, the service was an emotional celebration of Chad's life, and the faith we share. His teenage grandson gave an eloquent tribute, that left us all longing to have a grandfather to love and inspire us just as Chad did him.

After the witnesses to our faith, and to Chad's life were finished, the service shifted focus. Chad's eldest daughter went to the pulpit and told us the story of Jason Yandle, who was an outstanding student and athlete, of the family's decision at his death to donate his organs, and of the special relationship between the families. They found out about each other when Mrs. Yandle heard Chad speak on a radio program about his heart transplant and figured out by the date that he was the one who'd received Jason's heart. The moving tribute concluded with a fitting plea, complete with handouts, for us all to become organ donors.

I returned to Sumter in time to catch the end of the Sumter High School Chorus fall concert in Trinity's sanctuary. I walked in as they were singing Giovanni Pergolesi's Alleluia, and simply stood in the back, drinking in the harmonic praise. Some days you cannot avoid the glory and love of God, revealed right here where we live, and die.

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