Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

Wearing My “Funeral Face” on Youth Sunday

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(Special thanks to Jan Stack for sharing her thoughts for the blog this week!)

I am sure that when you read the title of this blog, you will wonder if on this warm sunny autumn afternoon, I have gotten into my bottle of pain pills leftover from my knee surgery. I haven’t. I will explain:

When I have to play the organ for any event which promises to be emotionally moving and cause me to either cry or have tears in my eyes, I put on what’s known as my “funeral face.” Call it a game face, a stone face, a stiff upper lip, a Scarlett O’Hara way of thinking, whatever – it just means that you focus away from what’s going on so it doesn’t affect you.

I have to do this – not because I am ashamed or afraid to cry; but because if I do, I can’t see to play the music for the service. I’ve been doing this for 40-plus years.

This morning, for Plymouth’s worship service, I had to do it again. Any time my grandson Brendan plays the cornet or participates in the youth service at church, it makes me cry. I am so proud of him – proud of the young man he is turning out to be and proud of his talents and that he is willing to share them. I send up a prayer of thanks to God every time he does this. So today, I had on my “funeral face” as he played for the praise hymn, served as lay leader, and participated in one of the skits. But out of every pore of my skin came smiles of pride, and gratitude to God.

But then came the unexpected. My granddaughter, Jenna, who perpetually does the “deer in the headlights” imitation for every school program since daycare, calmly walked to the podium and read, flawlessly, the call to worship.

I realize Jenna is almost five years younger, and has yet to “bloom” with her talents (although she shows a lot of promise!), but it blew me away. The reading had a lot of difficult words in it, and she too is growing up and choosing to share her talents in church. I had to bite my lip nearly in half to keep my “funeral face” intact. My pride doubled in that moment. I praised God not once, but twice.

Both of my grandchildren, participating willingly in the youth service. What more could a grandmother ask for?

These children, knowingly or unknowingly, are preparing for their time of serving the Lord as adults. They have seen their grandfather (Rick) and me both play the organ in church for many years. They have seen their other set of grandparents (Doug’s mom and dad) serve the Lord in their church in Joliet. They have seen their mother and father praising the Lord by singing in the choir, participating in worship, and being members of committees. Beth and Doug are faithful about bringing them to church. Whether they know it or not, they are acquiring a thirst for being a part of the body of Christ. They have attended other churches, but as Brendan has always said, “I’d rather be at Plymouth.” They have grown up here from tiny babies. Plymouth is their second home.

Guided by their parents, by Pastor Bill, by their Sunday School teachers and by the example of the members of Plymouth, their faith will grow as they learn of God and Jesus Christ. Eventually they will be confirmed, and even as they go off to college and their adult lives, it is my prayer that the experiences they have had at Plymouth and the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds will cause them to want to be a part of a church family wherever they are. That is and always will be part of my prayers for Brendan and Jenna.

And then one day, when I am too old to play the organ, I will be able to sit in a pew and hear a great-grandchild say: “Welcome to our church! This is Youth Sunday, and I will be your lay leader today.”

And on that day, I won’t have to wear my “funeral face.” Pass the Kleenex, please.


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