Matthew 21:12-17

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,
“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”
And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Ed, Faithful Son and Servant of Christ

I have met a lot of big men, often men known for their athletic abilities, but I have never known a tougher man than Ed, our dear brother in Christ, at St. Matthew’s. His wasn’t an imposing physical presence, but God knows Ed was strong in drive, in character, and in love for God, his family, and this congregation.

Ed’s father left Ed’s mother to care for her two boys, as a single parent, when Ed and his younger brother were not yet teens. Mama Lois was from Wilmington, and so she moved back home from Pennsylvania, and her boys settled in at St. Matthew’s. Once they joined the old church at 17th and Ann, that was it.

At 18, Ed went into the Army and did the first of three tours of duty in Viet Nam when our soldiers were still known as military advisors. Ed was in-country when President Kennedy was assassinated.

After Ed’s second tour of duty, you would have imagined he would not have had to go back, but his baby brother was in the Army and Ed volunteered for a third duty so that his brother would not have to face death in Viet Nam. Sadly, Ed’s little brother was killed in a car wreck outside Ft. Bliss TX.

Ed came home from the war a third time and began a career as a long-haul trucker. He came home early from one trip and found the mother of his children in the arms of another man. Ed became a single dad.

Ed was a wonderful son to his mother, Lois, up to the time of her death. He was a good and faithful husband to Carrie. He was a faithful servant of Christ at St. Matthew’s serving both on the Property Team and as a Saturday night usher. Ed changed the Presence candle in the nave on a regular basis and refilled oil torches. When there was a property work day, Ed was always right there serving, even when he was struggling through four different bouts with cancer. Ed never called attention to himself. He endured.

Ed lost most of his esophagus and a good part of his stomach to cancer surgery. He went back and forth to the local V.A. Clinic and up to the Durham V.A. hospital. Even when Ed was terribly weak, he kept going, pushing himself, and always wanting to serve Christ and His Church, whether on Church Council or in the many little tasks that are so necessary and rarely noticed or appreciated. Things don’t just happen.

Ed was certain it was exposure to Agent Orange in Viet Nam that had been the cause of his four bouts with cancer. The Veterans Administration never admitted to that possibility even though this man served three tours of duty in America’s most unpopular war. Bureaucrats are rarely worthy of the folks they serve.

I have known guys who were full of machismo and loved to win staring contests as if they were biggest, baddest men that ever walked God’s green earth. Not a one of them could hold a candle to Ed. I miss him again and again as tasks need doing like all the separating and distributing of palms on Palm Sunday.

Thank you, dear Father, for Ed and all those good sons, whose love for their mothers and their Mother the Church, gives such a stunning, faithful witness to Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Put forty pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box today to help to buy farm animals to help the global poor to make a sustainable living.

Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS

St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

Wilmington, North Carolina

The Daily Readings are from English Standard Version, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers