Blessed… To the Forefront

At that time Herod the ruler heard the news about Jesus. He said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He’s been raised from the dead. This is why these miraculous powers are at work through him.” Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. That’s because John told Herod, “It’s against the law for you to marry her.” Although Herod wanted to kill him, he feared the crowd because they thought John was a prophet. But at Herod’s birthday party Herodias’ daughter danced in front of the guests and thrilled Herod. Then he swore to give her anything she asked. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a plate.” Although the king was upset, because of his solemn pledge and his guests he commanded that they give it to her. Then he had John beheaded in prison. They brought his head on a plate and gave it to the young woman, and she brought it to her mother. But John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened (Matthew 14:1-12. Common English Bible).

Early on in my ministry I had the opportunity to sit down for a long conversation with an elderly African-American United Methodist pastor. Some of the things he had to say made an impression on me that has stuck with me throughout the past 26 years.

We spent a great deal of time on the subject of funerals. He explained that in the black church, funerals were incredibly important. He said that throughout American history African-Americans have often been in the background and that it was only at their death that many moved to the forefront. Because of that the black church has always place great importance on the funeral.

That idea has stuck with me. While I will not say the average white American has experienced the same things as the average black American, for most of us, we are not famous. We have our small circles where we exist and are known but the average person, regardless of race is far from being well-known. We go through our lives and when we die most of the world doesn’t notice.

I have stood before in a cemetery that was fronted by a highway. People went speeding up and down the road, paying little, if any attention to those who grieve in the cemetery. I have even wanted to scream, “Hey world, pay attention. Someone important died.” At the same time, however, I realize to the world, they weren’t important at all.

John the Baptist was a background player too. History, of course, remembers John the Baptist. After all, while he was still in the womb, he recognized Jesus. He baptized Jesus. He knew Jesus to be the Messiah. For all that faithfulness, John the Baptist will always have a place in the historical record. He was important.

Still, throughout his life, John the Baptist was a background player. He was always someone who people saw but perhaps they didn’t really see. He baptized Jesus. He announced Jesus. But, in all these events, Jesus was the central character. John the Baptist was important, though even compared to the disciples, he was in the background. He was important because of his faithfulness. When he died, Jesus noticed. When he died God noticed.

When a person of faith passes from this life to the next, it is something important. It is not something that should remain in the background. Someone who is important in the eyes of God has left this life and moved on to the next. This person moves from the background to the forefront. And, we should never forget. We should take notice. When that person of faith died, Jesus noticed. When that person of faith died, God noticed.

We may not know the person whose funeral procession passes us on the way to the cemetery. We may not know the person who we see being buried as we drive past a cemetery. But, God did notice, and we should too. Perhaps, at times like these, when a person moves from the background to the forefront, we should say a quick prayer of Thanksgiving for that person’s life and a prayer of comfort for those who loved that person who for us may remain in the background, but on that day is in the forefront.

How can we honor the faithful who have moved to the forefront?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

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