Sunday’s Scripture ~ Hebrews 12:1-2.
Jean Arthur is a hero of the faith to me. She entered into glory on July 25, 2019. Her family lovingly walked with her to the threshold on this side of eternity and – I am certain – her beloved Corky met her – arms open wide – to guide her across to the other.
I can only imagine that sweet reunion. That sort of reunion awaits us all because of Christ’s gift in resurrection.
Jean – I called her Miss Jean – was the matriarch of a five-generation family at Tuskawilla UMC, where I served before coming to South Shore. Jean and many of her family – children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren! – would join her on the second row of the left center section near the main aisle of the Sanctuary each week for worship. Jean always sat nearest the aisle. It may have been for ease of access to her walker on Communion Sundays. It may have been because she wanted an unobstructed path to excuse herself during the service.
Sometimes she whispered her excuses…other times she thought she whispered her excuses…
I think Miss Jean sat on the aisle so she would have a front row seat to the Children’s Moment. The children of the church sat with me on the steps of the chancel as we shared a moment together each Sunday. In time, Joshua joined us. He is known as Hue to Miss Jean’s family. And Hue would usually be snug in Ashley’s arms – one of Miss Jean’s great granddaughters.
One of her babies was the earliest caregiver for my baby…that is a bond our families will always share.
Miss Jean often told tell me stories about growing up. I am known for some pretty outlandish footwear and Miss Jean’s father owned a department store with quite a shoe selection in the Midwest. She often told me about her husband, Corky, coming to Florida ahead of the rest of the family. She warned him and their daughter, Louise, about finding a church without her… “And you know what!? They did! I got here and they had made the decision…good thing I liked this place…” talking about Tuskawilla UMC. Miss Jean often told me stories about how Corky followed his heart, and how following his heart always affirmed his faith in God and answered a need in the community. Miss Jean’s family is committed to ending childhood hunger through partnering with local schools to send weekend food bags home throughout the school year. A vision that was first seen by Corky and Jean is now a reality for students at nine elementary and high schools across Seminole County.
Miss Jean was humble and astute. You never had to guess her opinion. She loved fiercely and was a model encourager. She trusted God.
She exampled for me what it means to live the assurance “it is well with my soul.”
Miss Jean, I am grateful you liked the place known as Tuskawilla UMC. I am grateful to have been appointed there and to have had the privilege of serving as your pastor for five years. I am grateful that my family is considered part of your family, even when Harry calls me Molly, and especially when I have the privilege to mentor your sweet Ashley.
I feel like an honorary lucky ducker.
I miss you. I celebrate that you are no longer in pain and that you are once again holding hands with Corky. I trust God will continue to put your faithful hands to work as you serve alongside the great cloud of witnesses.
Well done, good and faithful servant. I love you, Miss Jean. Always.
Prayer: “The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures; he will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.”* Amen.
*”Amazing Grace,” The United Methodist Hymnal 378.