When the Praises Go Up . . .


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Can anything good come from there?

John 1:46

I wrote about an honored elder’s funeral in my last post.  Let’s call her “Mary”. “Derrick” delivered the eulogy; and his preaching made me thank God – for Derrick, Derrick’s gifts, and the community I grew up in.

We all grew up in the same neighborhood, the same building, in public housing (aka “Nazareth”).  Derrick grew up down the hall from Mary and often made a detour to her apartment to eat dinner; to the chagrin of his grandmother, who would say, “Don’t feed him again, he already ate dinner, he’s just being greedy!”  (He would get the 2nd meal anyway.)  Mary has one son, “Eric”, but Derrick became another son.

As a teenager, Derrick was the neighborhood terror.  He said, “If you got on the elevator with me, you never knew what you were going to get.  I would curse people out for no reason.”  For several years, it wasn’t clear if he would make something of himself in life.  He did, and Mary never gave up on him.

That’s why it was so beautiful to see him lead the funeral procession, leading Eric & “Susan” (Mary’s daughter), while proclaiming the word of God.  The funeral was a tribute to Mary, and to all our parents, who jointly created a safe and supportive environment for us to grow up in.  Derrick was eloquent, funny, encouraging and unashamed; and words like “passionate” and “energetic” don’t do justice to the fire that was in him.  He kept exhorting us, saying “When the praises go up, the blessings come down!”  He also invited his blood brother, “George”, to sing for us.  I smiled, remembering when George & Eric were teens pursuing hip-hop careers.  They even shot a low-budget rap video that aired on public access cable.  Those careers didn’t pan out.  No matter.  They’re fine now.  We all are.

Good things do come out of Nazareth.  Derrick asked everyone from the building to stand up.  Several have moved and others have died; yet, we were a sizeable contingent of people who are all working to make something of ourselves and our lives.  After the service, one guy said “he made you feel good to come from the projects”.  I agree.  Another neighbor told Derrick, “I’m proud of you and proud to know you”.  I am too.

 Train up a child in the way that he should go;

And when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

BOW is my first experience in blogging, and my writing has undergone an evolution since I started. I use If I Knew Then What I Know Now to think aloud about my Christian walk. When you read it, my hope is that WE (the BOW community & friends) then discuss how to apply God's word into our everyday lives in a practical manner. As Christian lay-theologians, we'll talk about our world, and how we can be in it but not of it. So whatever your thoughts are about what you read, PLEASE share.
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