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For Milford

November 1, 2018


I’m thankful for Milford.

Today is All Saints’ Day on the Christian Church calendar.

Many of us understand “saints” in the way our old friend Paul used the term, for example in Ephesians 1:1, to the saints who are at Ephesus. Beyond that, they are saints by virtue of their salvation in Christ and their sanctification through the Holy Spirit.

And,  by the grace of God, they’re all around us. And by the grace of God, you, too, can be a saint! Even I can, by the grace of God.

As a hymn puts it, “They lived not only in ages past/you can meet them [everywhere, everyday]/they are all of them saints/and I mean to be one, too.”

Some have gone on ahead of the rest of us. All Saints’ Day is a day to name those who have died in the past year, to remember them, and to be thankful.

I’m thankful for Milford.

Milford and I met at Candler School of Theology, our United Methodist seminary at Emory University in Atlanta.

We became close friends and shared more than I have time and space for here. Suffice it to say that when Patty and I got married, Milford was my Best Man; he was responsible for both Joseph and me, and handled us both successfully.

Somewhere in there, between when Milford and I met, and started sharing life’s celebrations and concerns, and were ordained as United Methodist elders serving our first appointments and way beyond, and through all the complexities of the “life happens” stuff, somewhere in there he had a heart attack at age 33.

Since then he bounced back and forth between being on medical disability leave and pastoring and working in churches in a variety of ministries and, well, just generally being Milford…which is to say, just generally being a blessing.

The guy was a gift.

Not long ago I saw him in a rehab center after a setback. He was doing well in physical therapy and talked about making lunch next time we saw each other.

And then yesterday his body gave out; he went on ahead of the rest of us; Milford died.

Who are you naming today?

Today, on All Saints’ Day, I’m naming Milford.

Today, on the day I’d like to start an entire month of being grateful, I’m naming Milford.

I’m thankful for Milford.

And I miss him.



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