Dear Ascension Family,
Since late December I’ve been reflecting a bit on our first two years with you all, and on what interesting chronological moments I was facing as we entered 2017. It struck me that I had a freshman son in high school, turn 50 in the spring, and had a father very sick and probably heading home to Jesus sometime in the early part of the year. Three significant markers in our earthly existence … bracketed in my own finiteness by youth, and possibly death.
As many of you heard on Sunday during worship, my father, Chuck Miller, did in fact head home to Jesus early on January 21st, Saturday morning. He had only one week from the determinative diagnosis of having both liver and stomach cancer, to his passing away. But that week was a glorious one, and I’m so glad I was able to be with him for several days of it. We talked, I got to tell him I loved him and would miss him, and that he was free to go. My highlight of the week was walking through the liturgy for Ministration of the Dying with him one evening. During those last days he heard from decades of men and women who he had loved and discipled to Jesus. The letters were moving and brought me to tears again and again, and overwhelmed him. It was humbling. He died affirmed and ready to respond to Jesus’ beckon.
This week I’m still getting my bearings on all that has transpired in January for us, and our country …. I think it will take more than a few days for sure. But I wanted to say thank you to you all for your prayers, emails, and texts asking how things were going the past couple weeks. I’m sure I will never know just how integral all those prayers were to my being able to be present to the situation last week, and for covering Mary Ellen and the kids in my absence, but I know we could not have made it through last week without you. As I said on Sunday, we are committed to Ascension being a real community, a real family that wades through hard times together, so we’ll continue to wade through this with you as best we can.
This coming Sunday I have a unique way to wade through all this that will take me out of town. In 1991, by God’s kindness, I was placed in a small group of guys that proved to be a seminal experience for me. We weren’t married or parents yet, and were all working our way through our twenties; trying to lean into God, work, relationships, and sharpening one another. Those men became real brothers, and every few years 5 of us still get together to share, pray, laugh, and continue to sharpen one another. We have not been together in awhile, so several months ago put this weekend on the calendar to gather in Dallas to catch up. The timing is of course unique for me, and I’m grateful for it. These men have sent parents to Jesus, they have all turned 50, and they have all had freshmen sons in high school; I’m trusting for some perspective, insight, and encouragement.
I’ll miss being with you on Sunday but leave you in Morgan and Andy’s capable hands. Morgan also has a blog post this week giving a preview of what he will be preaching on from Luke 7, and I encourage you all to read that as well!
Looking forward to seeing you on February 5th, and praying for you between now and then,