‘Momma Goose” died two weeks ago.
   Her real name was Annette Harvey, and I met her while I was Minister of Youth at Monticello Baptist Church in Monticello, MS. This was a part-time position, as I would make the 2 1/2 hour drive back and forth from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary each Friday and Monday. This was my first church staff position.
    People called her Momma Goose for several reasons, but I suppose it related to her desire to take in strays. This applied to both people and animals. She also had a tendency to hover over people and try to take care of everybody, usually by feeding them or being an attentive ear. She was someone that you would call “a mess.” Her son Anthony was in my youth group, so we were able to spend time together that way too.
    I received a call from someone who let me know about her funeral. Even though it has been a long time since I’ve been in that small Lawrence County community, the news still had an impact on me. I am sure it had an even greater affect on those still living in that town and remaining involved in that church.
   There are many things that go into keeping a church going, and the same is true with ours. We know about the impending roof replacement, flooding in the choir room, panic bar installation and other maintenance needs like the compressor going out that cools the choir room and loft (thus the robe-free summer). Then there are all the sick people in the hospital and at home.
   However, we have enjoyed meaningful reports from our children who went to Windermere for Camp Connect, and the youth talked about their recent trip to Louisville, KY for Mission Fuge.
   Then, there’s the matter of Carol Baumberger deciding to break her arm and get a concussion a few weeks ago. Fortunately, she is on the mend and back in the office keeping things running smoothly.
   It is also a privilege to be part of families for signficant moments. It was also a great pleasure to perform the wedding ceremony for Trey and Abby last weekend. We wish them all the best in their life together and as they share their lives with us through their work with our children, youth, and college students. And, this past Wednesday, I conducted a funeral service for Erma Wehr. That’s how life goes in the ministry.
   The Apostle Paul compiled a list of persons who were important to him while he worked with the church at Rome. A lot of times we skim over the names, but they remind us that the church IS the people. There was one person in particular who made a difference for Paul. He wrote, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother for me, too” (Romans 16.13 NIV).
   This woman was like a mother to Paul, and Annette was like a mother to me when I was still finding my way during seminary years. I will always be grateful to the Lord for that.
   Two Sundays ago, you all graciously recognized my family and me for seven years of ministry with UHBC. I appreciate the gift card very much (already been used) and more importantly my connection with this church family. Lori and I are grateful in particular for the ways you have loved Cally, Lucy, and Matt and made them part of your lives. Lucy and Matt were baptized here, and for that reason alone this church will always be special to us.
   Romans 16 reminds me that the reason I am where I am today is because of the many members of the family of faith who, through the years, have prayed for, encouraged, and been part of my life too. Maybe you could create your own list as well, and perhaps several of those persons who come from your connection with UHBC.
   Each Sunday is a kind of “family reunion” and I hope to see you this upcoming Lord’s Day. I realize it is a holiday weekend, one in which we celebrate the birthday of our nation and the freedoms we all enjoy. Regardless of the challenges that face us, it is a wonderful blessing to live in the United States of America.