Pastor's Piece - Reunions
by Dr Alex Currie
Early in May, my wife Beverley and I flew to New Zealand for a long weekend. One of the reasons we flew over is that my sister-in-law is suffering from cancer and we wanted to reconnect with the whole family. So on Thursday night my eldest brother and his three adult daughters enjoyed dinner and an evening together. It was a precious time. There was a new baby we hadn't seen before. They named him Alex, so that was special. There was wonderful sharing of memories and things we had done together through the years. His brother Ron has a gift for music. He introduced me to his newest toy, a large Yamaha keyboard. He only had three months of music tuition when he was a lad but he plays organ with foot pedals, piano, guitar, banjo mandolin, ukulele and a number of other stringed instruments.
There was so much to talk about. As a family we realise that in this life there are few certainties. But we can be absolutely certain of the big reunion in heaven. John says it will be a countless multitude 'from every nation, tribe, people and language...' who cry out 'Salvation belongs to our God...' Rev 7:9-10. What a reunion that will be. My mother, who died at 47, will be there. Hona Hon who passed away recently will be there. Plan now with confidence to be in that heavenly reunion.
The book of Genesis is all about some of the world's early families. It seems that in all families there are stresses and strains. Adam and Eve felt the trauma and shame of committing the first sins on this planet, of experiencing one of their sons commit the first murder and living in a dysfunctional family. One of the great reunions in Scripture is in Genesis 46-47 when Jacob and his family reunited with Joseph in Egypt. What a dramatic reunion that must have been. Jacob believed Joseph was dead but they reunited and lived in Egypt for the next seventeen years. God spoke to Jacob when He said "I am God, the God of your father...Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph's own hand will close your eyes." Gen. 46 3-4.
Early in my ministry Pr. Eric Hon visited our family in Innisfail, Northern Australia. I was studying with a prominent Chinese family and Eric gave his testimony to this businessman concerning his parents who closed their family store during Sabbath hours. Decisions are the hinges of destiny. As a result of that father's decision dozens of family members have served God and been such a wonderful blessing to humanity. Hona Hon passed away in the assurance that she would be reunited with her family when Jesus comes. What a reunion that will be! A text of promise shared with Hona was 2 Cor. 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
In the bible the family is the most important group of people mentioned. The first chapter of Matthew cites all the generations in Jesus' lineage. Here the relatives in-laws and connected by marriage are included as part of the family. When a family is blessed by God all under that family umbrella are affected. Church life is like living in an 'extended' family. Thornleigh was blessed to have Hona Hon as a driving force in hospitality, care ministry and a wonderful gracious love that was warm, compassionate and impacting on so many. Who will continue her influence? Some need to step into her ministry role. She was a fantastic giver; who will follow in her footsteps? Someone from Thornleigh will meet her in that great kingdom reunion and say "I took over your mantle of love and wrapped it around so many. Thanks for being such a wonderful model to me."
Another event Beverley and I attended in New Zealand was my High School Class Reunion. This year it is 58 years since we commenced high school together. Ten of our class members have died. We are now all in our 70's and the group have decided to meet annually. I try to touch base with many of these non-Adventist classmates by email most weeks I looked for Gordon who I hadn't seen for four years. He's had knee and hip replacements and heart by-pass surgery since I saw him. He walked now with a walking stick. A couple of times as he rose from a lounge chair I helped him to his feet. Life changes for all of us. I didn't recognise one woman, she didn't look like anyone I knew. Yet as we walked down the street to lunch at a restaurant, she turned and said 'You don't know who I am do you Alex?" It was Yvonne. After several years battling cancer her physical appearance was completely different. Once she was taller than me, now she was shorter. Whereas she was plump now she was thin and drawn. Another woman, who lost her husband, came up to Bev and I and said "you are the only persons who have ministered to me in my bereavement." Just this week she let us know that she was attending Vegetarian cooking class in the Adventist Church in her hometown. Let's keep sharing our faith with relatives, friends and neighbours.
In that great reunion when Christ comes Paul says "The body that is sown in perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." 1 Cor. 15: 42-4 He then continues "I tell you a mystery; We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed...When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 1 Cor. 15:51-54. Paul concludes the chapter with these words "Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain." Hona knew her Lord and knew that promise. What a reunion that will be. What surprises lay in store for her for like Dorcas she touched and influenced so many lives. Plan now to be in Heaven's great reunion.
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