Tag Archives: All Saints Day

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

St. Katherine

All Saint’s Day reminds us of faithful ones who went before us and made a way for our faithfulness. I celebrated this feast of gratitude for saints in heaven with saints on earth, both Catholic and evangelical, at our East Coast Training in Pennsylvania last week.

I was most grateful for an obscure saint but one radiant to me, Katherine Allen. She was catapulted into eternity after a fiery head-on car collision in 2014. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of her much recently. Until that training. 16 persons for whom she had given her life to reveal Jesus gathered with us and their stories moved me deeply. Around the Tidewater area of Virginia, Katherine had been the bridge for each of them to go from death to life: from slogging through pain-filled, divided lives to accepting Jesus’ invitation to bind up every wound and forgive every sin.

Katherine had a beautiful way of insinuating herself into a variety of persons’ lives—men and women, singles and marrieds, gender-benders and military officers, Church of God and Catholic. Through cheerful, attentive friendship, she mirrored back to each one the truth of how Jesus wanted access to the hidden (this is a very religious area) messes in each one’s life. Trust gained, she would then say something like: ‘Hey, I’m joining with a group of likeminded people seeking Jesus tomorrow night…Wanna come? I’ll pick you up.’

Each one then began the 20-week Living Waters series which Katherine ran like a champ. The groups swelled in size and soon she was running 3 or 4 programs a year, often simultaneously and in different churches throughout the area. Waters of healing rose in temples across town, and the faithful found a safe, dynamic place for becoming integrated human beings. She knew how to spot and cultivate lay leaders to tend this burgeoning work, and these ones—Shelly and Georgie and Joel and Tom and Terri and Bonnie (all present last week) and more became national-level leaders.

A fruitful life. Little did I know what Katherine possessed in her (gifting and character) and on her (Jesus’ anointing). We met in the early eighties when I was president of Exodus. She worked as a student advisor at a Christian college and was concerned about the growing number of persons ‘coming out’; not a struggler herself, she firmly believed St. Paul’s words: ‘We comfort others IN ANY affliction with the comfort we have received from the Lord’ (2 Cor. 1:4). She saw wounded seekers, not deviants, through the healing lens of Jesus. She was among the first leaders trained to run Living Waters and she never looked back.

Seasons change. Growing older, she handed off what had become a full-time effort and her replacement failed. Marvelous Tom and Teri Wright took over Living Waters regional leadership and faithfully ran our groups, but the culture had changed and momentum slowed. Then Katherine was killed: this punctuated poignantly what seemed like the end of a fruitful era.

I know better now. Maybe the seed must die in order to release many more. A healing army is arising in Tidewater again, a mystery for which leader Tom Wright has no answers. ‘It is just God’s timing; we had been held back and now the Spirit is mobilizing afresh those on whom Katherine laid hands’–each one intent on laying hands on others to release a fresh wave of ‘living water’ in Virginia.

Saints like Katherine—interceding now before the Lamb–are gifts that keep on giving.

‘He who goes out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him’ (Ps. 126:6).

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All Saints Day

Last week, November 1st, the day the Church honors her members on earth and heaven, we buried my son Nick’s second child Elizabeth in a small plot next to her brother Luke. She outlived him by two weeks. Surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses? (Heb. 12:1) Light penetrated our dismal gathering only by faith.

We had lived with her death for three weeks: numb, uncomprehending. Lamenting for Luke two years earlier was easier; this was more of a dull ache. It remains unfathomable. Two parents should not be admitted to the hospital twice to experience life’s greatest miracle only to return home empty-handed. The dance became a dirge. Twice!

Yes Jesus smashed the head of sin and death. But evil still slithers and strikes. Such cruelty is senseless.

Annette and I longed to bear our kids’ burden. That makes sense: we have more cross-bearing experience. Yet their suffering is uniquely theirs. That is our pain: to walk with them, helpless to change anything. We can only come alongside and pray and hope that the snakebite does not destroy something precious in them.

I cannot describe how proud we are of Nick and Meg. They were awesome parents to both Luke and Elizabeth. The decision after Luke’s death to try again took guts. They gave it their all and endured with dignity the indignity of losing Elizabeth. Together. They share a quiet, profound reliance upon each other.

The All Saints Mass reminded me that the communion of saints is as earthy as the soil in which we interred Elizabeth. We may not have answers but we have each other. And we have help from heaven. Later that day I remembered my favorite saints fighting now for our endurance: Bruno, Francis, Faustina, John Paul II, Therese. I am grateful for their battles, their snakebites, the fires they endured for the joy set before them. They help us. I feel little but know that we are surrounded.

‘The help we receive from heaven is like an invisible yet mighty river of life.’
Cardinal Schonborn

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