From Pastor Kenny's Desk

October 24, 2021

Dear MCC Richmond Family.

As many of you know, Kirk and I spent the past week in Amsterdam visiting and supporting our friend Will. Will’s spouse Maureen was diagnosed in early June with lung cancer that had metastasized. As you can imagine, you wouldn’t wish this diagnosis on anyone ... especially someone you love. Kirk has known Will and Maureen for 30+ years and considers them to be part of his chosen family.

Just three hours before Maureen was diagnosed, Will received his diagnosis of prostate cancer. That night after they had dinner together, Will said they took a walk and bought a lottery ticket ... who could blame them. Before long, the train of family and friends started to descend upon Amsterdam to support and care for both Will and Maureen. While Will’s treatment appears to be successful, Maureen’s was not. She left this world on September 25 with Will and her identical twin by her side. Will and Maureen were married 45 years and together more than 50 years.

As Will shared with us and told us more about Maureen’s last days, I couldn’t help but think about how God was present with them during this journey in tangible and relevant ways. For example, as residents of the Netherlands they both receive excellent medical care. If you have an appointment at 3pm, you see the doctor at 3pm … without any waiting or filling out papers. Can you even imagine that?

When Maureen could no longer go to the doctor’s office … the doctor gladly came to her home … without question. Whatever it took to bring Maureen comfort and dignity … it was done in record time. As Maureen declined a solution was quickly determined which allowed Maureen to be as engaged in her life as was possible.

The best part is that Maureen knew she was loved by the many ways she was able to live her life her way, on her terms. She was faithful in caring for and helping others, she was generous and kind, she never held back from sharing her opinions or how she felt about an issue and did it was respect and integrity, and she passionately made a positive difference in the lives of others. I believe all these things are the blessings of God’s presence and transforming love in and through both Will and Maureen.

Thank you for all those who faithfully prayed for Maureen and will continue to pray for Will. His grieving process is only beginning. As Will told us over and over again, he’s having a tough time wrapping his brain around the fact that Maureen is gone.

Just like Will, we at MCC Richmond are experiencing profound grief as many are experiencing the realities of a life altering diagnosis or the loss of family members, friends, and MCC Richmond siblings. None of these conditions have anything to do with Covid but the realities of living life on life’s terms.

More than any other congregation I have served, we have lost many people within the past 2 years … and we hate it. Together we have cried out to our loving Creator, we have shared our anger, fear, and disappointment with each other and with God, we have prayed, begged, and bargained with God to make everything better. We have yelled, screamed, and cried together … and yet it can seem as if the pain and unresolved emotions are unending.

I have learned it’s when we are out of ideas or simply find ourselves at our wits end that God has a way of showing up in the most incredible and profound ways … ways we never imagined. The truth is God is always with us, however during times of overwhelming grief and hopelessness we begin looking for God differently. We experience of the love of God through the caring voices of a loved one, or a visit from a close friend, or receiving a touching card from a friend or family member, or your doctor suggesting a medication or treatment to make you more comfortable, or perhaps by opening up and sharing from your heart your love, admiration, or how much you’ll miss your loved one … you get the idea. God is always with us helping us through the unimaginable … giving us strength and reminding us we are loved … no matter what. And sometimes there are a lot of no matter what’s.

The words of the song On Eagle’s Wings are based on Psalm 91.  More than anything, this song and psalm help me get through difficult and painful times when I am overwhelmed or grieving loss. As I meditate on them, sing them over and over out loud or in my mind, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and provision … in all things. When I allow God to be my confidence … regardless if I like the circumstances or outcome … or not … then I often feel better and experience the peace that passes all understanding. Knowing that whatever reality I have, nothing will ever remove me … or any of us … from the palm of God’s hand.

Whatever you are going through, know you are loved and celebrated as the Beloved of God … just the way you are. Joyful, sad, grief ridden, doubtful, angry, fearful, loved … no matter what … try to open your eyes and heart for the blessings of God and be confident of God’s faithfulness, presence, and love.

Allow these words from On Eagle’s Wings written by Michael Joncas to touch your heart and soul.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord
Who abide in God’s shadow for life
Say to our God, "My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!"

And God will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of God’s hand.

Much Love and many blessings.

-Pastor Kenny Callaghan

P.S. Rumor has it that seminarian and our intern Mark Harrell is preaching this Sunday, October 24. You won’t want to miss it!

Song of the Week: On Eagle’s Wing (Apologies for the lack of inclusive language in this recording.)