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Here's a thought for Nov. 5

November 5, 2010
By The Rev. Celeste Lasich

Christ United Presbyterian Church

For all the saints...

Nov. 1 in the church calendar celebrates All Saints; in my Reformed tradition the saints are those faithful who were, are and are yet to come We will remember all the saints this year in worship Sunday.

For the past 22 months, my family and I have been focused on being with my father, Bill Lasich, in his journey with cancer. He entered eternal life Sept. 30, 2010. from the family home in Marquette Mich., eight days before his 80th birthday.

I was privileged to be with my dad and my mother Vivian for the two weeks before his death. Caring for him was the hardest and best thing I have every done.

My father was an incredibly strong, faithful, determined man who defied all survival expectations. He lived until the end with astonishing grace and dignity. One of the difficult challenges for him was that a later round of chemotherapy destroyed his hearing. He became completely deaf in the spring. The final loss was of his exceptional memory as the cancer ravaged his brain. Through it all, he remained gracious and grateful with everyone; regularly giving abundant thanks to God for the blessings of his life.

A week before his death, we had been warned that he could enter a coma by nightfall. He had not recognized nor communicated with anyone for some time. The available family gathered for a quickly convened communion service. When Dad saw the bread and cup, he looked surprised - pointed to the elements and said clearly, "for me?" Through happy tears, we shared the promises of reconciliation and new life, with Dad joining in the Lord's Prayer and Doxology - so much a part of him that he could easily read our lips and join us as we sang and prayed. He was completely present for the first time in many days and that gift continued for about 20 minutes. It was a miracle of grace and peace in the midst of a grueling time.

I was with my father at his bedside that final morning, praying for peace, reconciliation and rest from his final struggles. I began to pray through the prayers at the end of life and moved on to then the funeral liturgy. When I reached the commendation: "Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Bill Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints of light" my father peacefully took his final breath While his ears could not receive sound, his spirit was attentive to the end.

At my father's request, I gave the sermon at his memorial service on Oct. 30 with the theme "That your joy may be complete..." His instruction in his final plans was that his service be joyful and it was: a choir of friends, two bagpipes, communion using bread baked by dear friends, committal with military honors in the First Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden he started, and an exceptional meal in the manner he had prepared over the decades for so many church friends and guests.

In life and in death, we belong to God. With gratitude, let us give thanks for all the Saints who from their labor's rest. Alleluia!



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