Friday after Ash Wednesday
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Barbara, Pious Mother
Barbara was one of the first of the younger adults I met when we moved to Wilmington in 2004. I learned that she was the emotional and spiritual rock of her family. With three young daughters and a busy husband, Barbara seemed to be on the road constantly running children to gymnastics or her husband to the airport in Myrtle Beach. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a big heart. Her eyes were expressive and full of love.
Barbara saw to it that her family was at the early Sunday Eucharist each week. There was no question where they would be. Her best friends had young families, too. They fellowshipped often together. Church was the bedrock of their week.
Barb shared that she was a cancer survivor. Her sister had died from cancer. Her mother was also a survivor. I will never forget the day Barb and her husband called and asked to drop by. They had just been to the doctor. Cancer, that sneaky, vicious evil disease, had come back.
Barbara fought hard. She had a lot to live for. Her oldest was about fifteen, and the little girls were ten and seven. Barbara and her husband had fallen in love when they were sixteen and fifteen. They had been a couple for twenty-seven years. Cancer, the very face of evil, does not care. It pursues many relentlessly. Even when cancer has been conquered, one little cell seems to hide away waiting for its chance to metastasize again. Barb began to have this haunted look in her eyes. We hoped. We prayed. At just a few months past her 43rd birthday, Barbara died.
That year, 2006, was the first of many painful years at St. Matthew’s. Little Emily died in July. John, a dapper retired engineer, died in early November. Barbara was about three months old when President Kennedy was assassinated. She died on the 43rd anniversary of that dreadful day in American history and on the 43rd anniversary of the death of the great former atheist and defender of the faith, Clive Staples Lewis.
The day of Barb’s funeral, the church was packed with fellow parishioners and friends. I was fine until I saw her husband holding the hands of Barb’s two youngest. Dear God, that nearly ripped my heart out of my chest. When I am at Oleander Gardens, I stop frequently at Barb’s grave and little Emily’s. They are buried about two rows apart. Neither of their families remained at St. Matthew’s. I remember often the many I have buried.
Thank you, Father, for Barbara and all the pious women, who nurture their families in faith, hope, and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Put three pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box today to help to provide food for the local food bank to share with the poor.
Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.