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I knew saying good-bye to Jim would be hard. Not only had he been a loyal and long-time member of the congregation, he was also one of the most beloved, a sort of favorite uncle for many of us.

Now I was presiding over his funeral. As I drew to the midpoint in my sermon, I felt the pressure of pent-up tears. I looked out at faces of so many lives Jim had touched.

I choked back the wall of emotion; I couldn't speak. I paused and tried again. I couldn't. I waited. Eternity came and went. Bit by bit, word by word, I got through my message.

After the service I was exhausted. But I kept pushing myself into another week of ministry. Six days later, I had to do it again.

Esther died of cancer. Her husband, Henry, had died of a stroke only six weeks earlier. I watched her slide quickly after his death. We buried Esther on Sunday.

Early Monday morning, Helen died.

Helen was our nursery worker of fourteen years, whose family is like my own. I was with them at 1 A.M. when Helen was pronounced dead and ...

July/August
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