"Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."(Philippians 1:18-19)
Last Sunday I ended the message telling about a member of St. Luke's. I didn't use his name because he wouldn't want the recognition. But less than 24 hours later he passed away and is now at home with God. So his wife, Marcia, gladly let me share more today.
Al Bolin grew up with very little. He was one of eight children raised in The Depression. When his parents could no longer care for him he was sent to other family members. He lived in four different homes in less than ten years of his formative upbringing. He was a survivor.
When he couldn't afford to go to college he entered the military. The GI Bill made it possible for him to finish school and enjoy a great a career in business working with newspaper and communication companies. He and his wife Marcia were married over 60 years. They had two sons and in later years enjoyed being grandparents to their 5 grandkids. A few years ago he contracted the rare illness Olivopontocerebellar Atrophy, a disease with ALS-like symptoms.
As I told in the sermon last Sunday, I went to see him last Thursday. He could no longer talk and be understood. When Marcia said he had not lost his faith and was still joyful he smiled as bright as he did in this picture with his granddaughter. Then Marcia shared Al's greatest joy in life...serving others. He lived to help people. He had gone on 20 building team trips; volunteered with Meals on Wheels, the Literacy Council, Fletcher Place, and more; and served as a volunteer at St. Vincent's hospital for over 20 years. Helping people kept him joyful.
I couldn't help but make a connection between his joy in helping others and the joy that was sustaining him in his last days. It is a living and dying example of the counter-intuitive truths Paul talks about in Philippians. This Sunday we will look further at this idea and how even in suffering and times of loss we can have joy. Joy is definitely an inside job. This Sunday we will be touching on the very heart of this secret to joy, a secret I believe Al knew.
See you Sunday,
PS-Al's wife, Marcia, and family will receive friends at the church unday afternoon from 2:00-5:30 and his Celebration of Life Service will be Monday in the sanctuary at 11:00am