Reunions are interesting events. They are held for all manner of reasons. High School, College, Family, Work, Military, Church…on and on.
This past weekend I attended a reunion. It was actually the International Assembly of the Church of God of Prophecy. This was the denomination I grew up in and was an official in for many years. I began working as a child missionary/evangelist with a well known Missionary/Evangelist , Harrison E. Price. I traveled the country and much of the world with him. We organized churches and did revival campaigns in amazing places. I am in the early stages of writing my life story. In the story of my life, this denomination is central to who I am and what I have become.
The two days I spent in Chattanooga were fun and humbling. I have not attended one of these for the past 20 years. So, I had no idea what was in store for me. I knew I wanted to hear the Bahama Brass Band play live again. I was not disappointed. They continue to be what they have always been. You cannot hear this band without wanting to pick your feet up and march. They inspire inclusion. I brought them to New Orleans once and we did a parade down Bourbon St. The bars emptied and people were joining in. The crowd who marched with us gave away 150,000 gospel tracts telling the story of Jesus. It was a wonderful time. So they are dear to my heart. I loved every moment of their performance.
Then I began to see people who I had not seen in decades. Amazingly they remembered me from some meeting or other. We laughed about old times, and shared stories about where we had been and what life had handed us. Many times I was humbled by the stories of how my ministry had touched the lives of people far and wide. It’s always pleasant to hear, “You were a blessing to my family”. I was indeed grateful to know I had an influence in helping someone along life’s pathway.
One brother in particular was from Seattle. I did not remember him at all until he told me the story of how his father had accepted Christ in one of my revivals there many years ago. His father had passed and the family were all thankful that he had made that peace with God. They knew he left for a heavenly eternity. I began to recall that meeting and that experience with that man. He changed my life as much as I changed his. Now his son shared with me that at least one man was in his heavenly home because I had flown across the country and presented the gospel to that group for that week of my life.
Reunions are about the years of our existence. We are able to synopsize the decades with ease because our lives are not about one day or one week or one month or one year, but the continuing flow of our contributions . I can’t remember how many times I was asked, “so how are things”? My answer was generally predicated as to the memory of the person asking the question. If I had had regular contact with that person, I knew how to answer. If I had not crossed paths with them in ages, then my answer was a bit more generalized.
Over all we like to go to these events to remind ourselves of our past and reconnect with people who at one time in our lives, figured prominently. Now, maybe not so much, but it is good to see them again.
I attended my 50th High School reunion a few years back and my wife and I sat at the table with the girls who were cheerleaders during those HS years. They were pulling up their pant legs and comparing the scars where they had had knee replacements. It was kind of funny. Those legs that once jumped and bounced and climbed now were showing the signs of the damage that had been done in their youth.
This week end, I didn’t see cheerleaders showing scars of physical damage, but I did see the results of people who had lived lives. I saw some who had been hit hard with damage. Some who had children born with special needs. Some who had tried to follow the path of their parents dreams and had found it empty. I saw people who had weathered storms. I saw people who had been drafted into the military and had seen war on a grand scale. I saw those who had drifted from the biblical theory they once espoused. I saw those who had tried and failed; some who had tried and succeeded; some who had simply gone along with the flow.
But mostly I saw people who had hope. They all still held on to the idea that we got this far and we will keep on going. They all could still laugh and hug necks and take pictures together. They could remember the good times and the bad and know that nothing can kill the spirit of brother hood when it is forged in the flames of friendship.
This was a good reunion. I enjoyed it because it helped me to know that we are not alone as long as we hold memories dear. As long as our dreams still have some spark left. We go on…
Until the next reunion…….keep moving forward.
Sophia Lewis Smith — 5 years ago,
It was delightful to see you, dear friend! You and Diane impacted our lives profoundly; we are still very grateful. Blessings to you and yours. Keep writing. You have stories that need to be told; they are filled with hope. Derrell and I love you. Always have, always will!