“Isn’t it amazing how those songs went right along with the sermon? And the song leader and preacher didn’t even talk beforehand.”
I’m not normally one to get too excited about such apparent confluences of thought. If I’ve heard the above line 100 times, probably 85 of the instances could be discounted, because, after all, nearly everything in a Christian assembly can be related to love or faith or Jesus. The actual dovetailing doesn’t end up being all that miraculous most of the time.
Aside: it’s no sin for worship/song leaders and preachers not to communicate beforehand. A sermon, if used, can obviously stand on its own; any songs, readings, prayers, and comments need not jibe with the sermon or even with each other. Worship and edification may stand on their own, without needing to be tied to a message or lesson.
Anyway, after all that preface! …
- Recently, I came across a brief Christian Chronicle article that mentioned black¹ evangelist Marshall Keeble’s² having eulogized a parrot, on request, before laying it to rest for his great-granddaughter.
- Not one hour before, I had read a forwarded e-mail with sweet, gentle thoughts about dogs as friends and gifts of God.
- The above two occurrences reminded me that my granddaddy had been prayerfully thankful, following the death of the family’s long-loved collie Frisky, for “the comfort of our animal friends.”
So, while not attributing the confluence of the dog e-mail, the article about Keeble and the parrot, and the recollection of my granddaddy to the Spirit of God, I thought all this was worth mentioning here. The fact that I had all three thoughts (some might call them “promptings”) in a brief span might mean nothing to you, but it was quasi-noteworthy my thought-world. Surely both Keeble and my grandfather were both men of influence, men of inspiration, and men who were willing to recognize many of God’s gifts, including animals.
I have eulogized my grandfather before, and probably will again. I have never written a word, to my recollection, about Marshall Keeble, but have heard about him often. He predated my grandfather by a generation but lived 90 years. My parents once heard Keeble speak. He was a man of note.
Called an “Uncle Tom” by some of his black contemporaries because of his willingness to play into white conventions, he is said to have had an infectious, irresistible style of preaching. Not unexpectedly, he was also conservative in terms of issues and emphases, and was given to relatively narrow, elementary hermeneutics in his scruples and sermons. Keeble’s preaching resulted in the immersion of thousands — some estimates run as high as 40,000 of these initiating steps in the Christian walk. To have been Marshall Keeble, especially in his prime in the first half of the 20th century — was to make observable, eternally significant history.
To have been Andy T. or Kathryn Ritchie was not as visible in terms of numbers, but they also made significant history in their Kingdom work, moving on to the “land of the eternally living” in the 1980s. The likes of Ken Neller, Neva White, Kyle Degge, Judy Barker, and Jeannette Baggett have died within the last year and are also worthy of note in Kingdom service — sometimes in the simplest of gestures, and in other ways touching scores of souls at a time.
Recently I visited a cemetery and thought about what has gone before me. So many have done so much for the Lord. While I’m not supportive of every word or opinion voiced by some of those named above, my support clearly isn’t the crux: God can use a lot of variety in His service. And who really knows how much has been done in the spirit-realm that was never observed physically?
In remembering the gifts and devotion of those who have worked devotedly for the causes of the Kingdom of God in the past, we may be spurred in the now.
¹ I use the adjective “black” for several reasons: a) it is more common, and therefore less jarring than the more apt “brown,” b) it is less historically charged than “colored,” c) it is much less awkward than “person of color,” and d) I have no knowledge of whether this man, or even his parents or grandparents, were actually “African-American.” In fact, I just listened to a sermon archive and heard Keeble proclaim that he wasn’t from Africa. Neither do I find it necessary to proclaim that I am an Irish-Swiss-English-Welsh-Scottish-German-American. I guess “mutt” would do just fine for me.