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We just returned from a great graveside service!  The lady who died/is now truly alive, was Emma Davis Dougherty.  She was an 88 year-old member of the church where we served for many years.


During the four years we were in IL, Alzheimer’s took its toll and by the time we returned, she could no longer talk, had flat expression and was in a wheelchair. This was nothing like the Emma we remembered!  She had been so vivacious and encouraging.  She always had a live flower in her hair and was a true delight!


Over the last few years, her husband Billy (their 31st anniversary was coming in May) and two granddaughters have been caring for her at home as her health continued to deteriorate.  During this time, Billy had a mild stroke, Emma broke her hip and the girls were going to school.  One of them will be getting married in May.  The other has one year left to finish her BSNursing program.


Emma and her first husband were missionaries in the Congo in Africa.  Eventually, they had to leave due to the political uprisings.  The n they moved to Brazil!  Brazil became a new home for them and their 5 sons and a daughter.  A few years later Emma’s husband and two sons were murdered!  There were grandchildren at this point too.  For many of her children, it became a permanent home where they have land and agricultural interests.  It is also a place of ministry for them as well.

The children are all grandparents now, both those who are living and the widows of the men who were killed.  Most of the grandchildren are grown and are growing families of their own.  They are sprinkled all over: New Jersey, Michigan, Georgia, Brazil, Alabama and those are the people I spoke with!  The count today is over 50 grandchildren, over 100 great-grandchildren…and counting!  Many of them were at the graveside today and had traveled from a variety of places including Brazil.  Looking around at all the families and children and realizing the legacy of faith they have benefited from was very moving.


We live our lives and follow Christ.  Over time He teaches us things about Himself from His Word, through our study and through teaching from our pastors and other godly leaders.  In our church community we learn so much from the people there…the more diversity there is, the better it is for us.  It is stretching and often uncomfortable.

But the opportunity to see the outcome of a family with this legacy of faith…and grace has been wonderful for this pastor’s wife.  Watching men and women who loved God and passed on to the next generation that love.  I’m glad I have been privileged to know Emma and others like her.  They don’t live perfect lives, they aren’t impressed with themselves, they just obey and trust Christ daily.   It was very appropriate that the service closed with the following hymn.  


“For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest”
by William W. How, 1823-1897

1. For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

3. Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

4. O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

5. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

6. But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

7. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Hymn #463
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Heb. 12:1
Author: William W. How, 1864, cento
Composer: R. Vaughan Williams, 1906, arr.
Tune: “Sine nomine”