Her head was down and she was engaged in battle with one of her greatest nemesis – weeds – when out of the blue she asked, “Why do Episcopalians talk so much about sin?” I literally laughed out loud when she asked this question. When I gained composure, I responded, “now that’s an interesting question from the wife of a Southern Baptist preacher!”
What pursued was a lengthy theological discussion filled with stories about her childhood, meeting the love of her life at the Baptist university she attended, and how deeply she was committed to both her faith and her faith community.
What was absent in the conversation was any judgement, disrespect, or air of superiority. In fact, the more we talked the more I personally felt connected with her and had an ever increasing admiration for her.
When she posed the question about sin it was done so sincerely. We had attended an Episcopal service earlier in the day and she was truly curious about our understanding of sin and why, from her perspective, it had a place of prominence in the liturgy.
Through the years she and I had numerous other discussions, all filled with her love of story telling with a dramatic flare, lots of humor and always a reflection of her love of the Lord.
I was the first to marry one of her grandchildren. Like those who had gone before me who had married her children I was not only immediately accepted, but was undeniably a full member of the family. A family that she humbly, yet clearly loved over as the matriarch of four children, 13 grandchildren, 13 grandchildren’s spouses and 26 great-grandchildren (and counting).
A family which all gathered in the Baptist Church where she so freely shared her gifts for ministry for 63 years this Monday to give thanks for 98 years of a full faithful life. Family – some biological, some by marriage, some by faith community – all the family of God celebrating the blessing of sharing the journey with such a wonderful woman.