"The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty five years. Then Enoch walked with God and he was no longer here, for God took him." (Gen. 5: 23-24)
Bob Brancamp, pictured above took God's hand this morning and is not here any more. His soul, along with "...the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment will touch them (him). (Wisdom, 3:1)
This is not the only picture that we have of Bob, but we think that this is the one that fits him best. He was always in high fettle when he was with the young people of SONshine Summer. He would arrive at the "office" 20 minutes ahead of time and stay for as long as he was needed after the final bell. Next June, we will have to put his picture on the admin table, so that happiness can come to the hearts of the children that he enjoyed so much for the four summers of SONshine Summer.
God has taken him by His side as a sacrificial offering for our labors and efforts in the Mission given to us by Jesus so that we might keep our eye on the goal and wear the laurel when our race ends. The book of Wisdom says that to the foolish they seemed to be dead but in fact they are in peace. God tried them and they proved themselves to be worthy of Himself. If God can embrace Bob, is it so bad that we can no longer give him the hugs that we gave him? He has been given the consolation for which we all live and aspire. He has proven himself to be worthy of a smooth and suffering-free transition from the difficulties of the "valley of tears" to the "Pearly Gates".
It is in the culture of human beings not say anything negative about the dead. In English we call them "the Dearly Departed." I am not (and never have been) a believer in this part of our culture. I don't expect anyone to say anything about me that would not be perceived as a true evaluation. But I have to say this, that if I hear a bad word about Bob, the speaker had better be ready. I wish I could have the smooth and gentle disposition that this holy man had. He will never be absent from my life. I will always envy him this wonderful gift of God; to be taken swiftly for the long, leisurely walk through the Garden. What better evaluation of our lives can we hope for? I stop and think that I have outlived everybody on my father's side and am fast approaching the outside limits of the longevity on the mother's side. It's got to be that God must be wondering how long it's going to take me to finally discover how sweet it really is to live in his love so that he feels that I have finally "made it?"
Can I pray for the repose of this soul? How much more repose can I pray for when it comes to Bob Brancamp? He's got it all wrapped up. Like Enoch, God Himself came in the middle of a moonless night and brought him to the light of the Eternal Kingdom. I pray for all those who were touched by the glowing light of Bob's life so that they, and I, can thank God for making Himself present to us in Bob's life.
Bob has died; Bob lives on. Let's all ask Bob to inspire us as to how he did and made it look so easy. May God turn the human suffering that comes to us as a consequence of such a sudden loss into atonement for the sins that we still have to cleanse from our lives so make us ready for His Kingdom. We thank God for giving us the light of Bob's life.
Even though I can't claim to be nearly as holy as Bob Brancamp, I still remind you that crying at my funeral is not allowed.