In Memoriam

My maternal grandfather, Russell Lee Creaser, died on March 30, 2016. He had been recovering from a stroke since July 2014, and I had the opportunity to visit him a few months before I left for Hungary. We knew it was going to happen this year while I was abroad, but that doesn’t make the pain and grief any less terrible.  I was able to be present at his funeral service on April 11 via Skype. I’d like to share with you something I wrote for his funeral:

When I heard of Papa’s death, I first turned not to scripture, but to the hymnal. I miss the old, familiar tunes: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!”   “Just a closer walk with thee, grant it, Jesus, is my plea…”   “Come home! Come home! You who are weary, come home. Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling, calling ‘O sinner, come home!’”.  A recent memory I have with Papa is when we were all singing “How great thou art” at the care home, and when we got to the refrain, he sang with such gusto: “Then sings my soul, my savior God, to thee, how great thou art! How great thou art!” Sometimes, the organist will play this as an instrumental during communion at my church and it always brings me to tears, because I remember Papa.

Papa is a soul-singer. Music is how he frequently communicated with the rest of the world and with the divine. I’ve never heard anyone sing with such conviction. He expressed his faith through music, and I know he touched many lives this way, including my own. In this time of grief and pain, I am comforted by the music he shared with me, and the music we both share as a larger church:

“Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord his children sever;

Unto them his grace he showeth, and their sorrows all he knoweth.”   (ELW 781, v. 3)

Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God: not Papa’s death, nor angels, nor rulers, not mountains or valleys or anything else in all creation. Because of the resurrection, death does not have the final say. Papa’s memory will live on in all of us, in the stories we tell and how he impacted our lives. Though they may feel far away, God is with us in this moment, accompanying us in this time of celebration and grief.

Let us pray: God, I thank you for the life of Papa Creaser. I thank you for his presence in my life for the past 23 years, and how he’ll influence my life for years to come. In these days of sorrow and rejoicing, be with all my family near and far who are remembering your faithful servant, Russell. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Papa and the Washington cousins, ca. 1999 (I’m second from the right)
Skyping with my grandparents, Nanny and Papa, on Christmas this year.



2 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. Kirsten,
    Peace to you my dear as you mourn the death of your beloved Papa… Your words remind me of my dad who also loved to sing hymns… anywhere! in church, in the barn while milking the cows, on the tractor in the fields, with the family around the piano in our living room. During his last hours when he became troubled and agitated I sang hymns with him and he immediately became calm and settled down. May God bless you with the comfort that your memories of your Papa’s singing bring. Much love, Rachel


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