Planting a rose bush in honor of my dad

– Wake Forest Presbyterian Church

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:2
– Dad’s rose bush

Palm Sunday is always one of my favorites in the church calendar. I love the celebratory atmosphere, young and old waving palm branches, hosannas ringing, the intoxicating moment of Jerusalem recognizing Jesus for who he really is – albeit with such tragic brevity.

It is also the day the good people of Wake Forest Presbyterian Church honor the memory of those who died during the previous year, by planting rose bushes in the garden.

During the years Rebekah served as pastor at WFPC we always appreciated the intimate memorial. We have seen sunshine, sleet, sub-freezing cold, rain, umbrellas, and uncomfortable heat – but seldom a Palm Sunday offering such an idyllic spring day as yesterday.

– “Rio Samba”

My mum, unfortunately, was not well enough to attend, but Rebekah and I were there, and we left with a warm glow of peace, of community, and God’s rich blessing.

Dad’s rose – “Rio Samba” – is spectacular. In fact all the bushes (representing David Maul, Jamie Burwell, Joan Jones, Ed Ray, and Si Seiler) are exceptionally beautiful plants.

Pastor John Fawcett did a great job with the worship and liturgy, and the church was well represented by people who came to pay their respects.

– Pastor John leading the service

Leaves for the Healing of the Nations:

– Larry hanging Jamie’s wind chime

I have to tell you, though, it was also hard to be there. At one stage, during a responsive reading, I hesitated because I felt the tears well up.

But it wasn’t because of my dad, my emotions were touched and my eyes were full because of the church. Being there, worshipping together with the saints at WFPC, still tugs in the deep places of my soul and – while I am very much grateful to Hudson Memorial for taking us in – my heart still belongs to the people at Wake Forest.

– Rebekah with the Joyners

Maybe that is why my favorite photograph from Sunday is the one of Rebekah standing next to the wonderful oak we planted as part of the 25th anniversary celebration back in 2016 (“We belong to the Day“). Look how tall it is, how strong!

This is the power of the Good News story! Strong like an oak tree planted in God’s purposes, rooted in belief and with its leaves reaching out like the Tree of Life in Revelation 22:2… “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

– Rebekah with WFPC’s 25th anniversary tree

It was a good beginning for Holy Week; this coming together of celebration, and grief, and the promise of what is to come – of resurrection and life.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:3-6

Thanks, WFPC, for the genuine love and the faithful witness – DEREK

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