Yesterday we said goodbye to 2017, and as many people around the world, we set goals for this new year. I was honored and blessed to preach God’s Word at Iglesia de Cristo en Arraiján just a couple of hours before the year ended, and we received 2018 with the brethren there. We had a good time of fellowship and worship to our heavenly Father.
While we were there, I checked Facebook quickly and the year was not the only thing we said goodbye. Three faithful men of God passed to their reward. Brother Robert Stapleton, who we did not have the opportunity to meet, was a Gospel preacher and served as director of the Brown Trail School of Preaching. Dr. E. Claude Gardner, another man who we did not meet in person, but of whom I have some of his writings, and who was the 13th president of Freed-Hardeman University. Finally, one who we met and loved to talk, sing, and spend time with, our beloved brother Joe Baxter, a brother that enjoyed leading songs and who usually referred to Jacky as “my little girl” because of the love and respect that both shared. He gave a bracelet to Jacky which she usually wears and brings good memories to her.
The sermon that was preached last night was based on the one I was honored to preach at the Memphis School of Preaching chapel just a few days after our beloved brother Garland Elkins passed to his reward. A sermon about “Hope”, not as the world sees it, but as Christians can be sure to know it. The video is available as well as the manuscript from that moment.
While we will miss these men, and others who went before us, we can surely rejoice on knowing that there will be a time when we will meet again and not need to say goodbye again, when we all together be at that side of heaven.
As the song written by Mrs. A. S. Bridgewater says,
How beautiful heaven must be,
Sweet home of the happy and free;
Fair haven of rest for the weary,
How beautiful heaven must be.
Our prayers and sympathy are with all their relatives and brethren that enjoyed living in this part of heaven with them.