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“I've heard it said, That people come into our lives for a reason Bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those Who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don't know if I believe that's true But I know I'm who I am today Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes the sun, Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood. Who can say if I've been changed for the better But because I knew you I have been changed for good."

(Stephen Schwartz – “For Good” from Wicked)

I will let you in on a little secret about myself and be a bit vulnerable at the same time. I love Broadway musicals, and it has been a dream of mine to sing on a Broadway stage.

At this stage in my life, I realize that is not going to happen, and I am okay with that. Obviously, my life has taken a different path. My Broadway experiences will only be from a theatre seat (when I am really lucky) or, more likely, from listening to my iTunes playlist.

I have seen a handful of Broadway shows in my lifetime. Wicked is not one of them, though it is still on my hope-to-see list. In 2003, Kristin Chenoweth played the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway version of Wicked. It was her voice that drew me to the music of this show.

Stephen Schwartz is the musical genius behind Wicked. Of all the masterfully crafted songs in this show, “For Good” is the one that’s melody and lyrics found its way into my heart. It is a song that stands as a tribute to people's influence in our lives. It is about forgiveness and gratitude for the imprint that they leave on our lives.

“For Good” is the second to last song in the musical where Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba, who turns into the Wicked Witch of the West, say goodbye for the last time. The idea for the song came when composer Schwartz had a conversation with his daughter. He asked her to consider what she would say to her best friend if she knew that she would never see her again. The first verse of this song is based on his daughter’s words.

The song is about the impressions that people leave in our lives after we say goodbye. It’s about how they change us and form us “for good,” which can have a double meaning. It can mean for the better, or it can imply forever.

Just a month ago, on a hot July Sunday afternoon, my siblings and I said goodbye to our mom. She told us that she was going home on a Sunday, and after a year-long battle with declining health and dementia, she did go home…on a Sunday just as she said she would. We said goodbye for the last time in this lifetime.

In the days since her death, I have reflected on the impressions she has left behind – the imprints that mark our hearts because we knew her as our mother – the ways we have been changed “for good” because of her nurture, care, and love over our lives.

Standing beside my mother as she passed from this world into the presence of God was a sacred space. I thought of all the times that she stood with me. Some of those times were beautiful and some simply were not. It is a sacred space, this kind of relationship where acceptance and love never give up – where beauty and perfection aren’t required – where ego and resentments don’t exist. This is a space for people who really see you. They are the ones who change you “for good.”

As the song unfolds, Elphba sings words that I offer up to my mom with deep gratitude and pray that she knows…“So much of me is made of what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.”

I hope you will take a moment to listen to this song by using the link below. As you listen maybe you will remember someone whose handprint is on your heart - someone whose goodness has made you better and stronger.

"For Good" from Wicked

There are some people who come into your life, and you know immediately that they are a gift from God. Homer Gordon was that kind of person. Quiet, kind, and compassionate are just a few of the adjectives that I would use to describe this man.

Homer was a man with a work ethic that was unmatched. He gave 100% of himself to his job and to the people that he ministered among. His gentle quiet ways made you want to be his friend. His humbleness made you want to be like him. His earnestness made you wish there were more people like him in the world. His gentle way with children made you wish that every child had a Homer in their life.

Homer Gordon was the custodian at Highland Hills Baptist Church from 1997 until 2023. He served that community of faith for 26 years with a heart of integrity and love. If you needed something, Homer would do anything in his power to get it for you. If he couldn’t meet your need, he would be humbly apologetic even if it wasn’t his fault.

I served at Highland Hills Baptist Church with Homer for 24 years. During those years, my children were usually with me as I worked and ministered. Homer loved them as if they were his own. He protected them. He nurtured them. He kept his eye on them. He loved them.

They were a part of his life until the very end. “How are Caitlyn and Chase?” he always asked. He watched them grow up from their earliest days until the day he took his last breath. He loved it when they visited with him after they left home for college. His smiles and hugs meant the world to them. Mr. Homer was a constant in their lives. He never failed them. His love was genuine and constant. They will never forget their Mr. Homer.

I will never forget this kind, gentle man. Homer never let me down. In the same way that he loved my children, he loved me. Humble and servant-hearted, that was our Homer. I have known many people with titles and degrees dripping from their resumes, but I honestly believe that the greatest who walked among us was this kind servant – Homer Gordon. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

“God continued, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.’” (The Message, Genesis 9:12-16)

Two days before the big day, we arrived at the wedding venue – a lush vineyard in South Georgia. It was raining and not the kind of weather we wanted for our son's and almost daughter-in-law's outdoor wedding.

The wedding party began to arrive, and, in the rain, we unloaded the luggage, the food, the decorations, and everything else that you could possibly need for a wedding weekend.

Despite the weather, our party of wedding participants was excited and joyful. We gathered for a casual dinner when tornado warnings popped up on our phones and televisions.

The mother-of-the-bride and I tried not to imagine the reception tent blowing away or where we were going to hunker down with this tribe of bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Much to our relief, the winds subsided, and the rains stopped. When it was safe, our merry band decided to venture out of our house to see if there was any damage to the vineyard property. We opened the front door, stepped out onto the porch, looked across the field, and to our delight we saw the most beautiful rainbow arching its way across the sky.

This rainbow was unlike any rainbow I had ever seen before. You could see its beginning and its end. It was a breathtaking moment – one of those moments when it feels like God is speaking your name.

Like with Noah long ago, the rainbow was a sign of a covenant between God and his creation – the promise of God’s provision and presence. This rainbow felt like a sign that God was speaking to Chase and Ashlyn. God’s message was not to say that they were more special than any other bride and groom but to remind them of God’s promise to be present with them. It was a reminder that the promises and vows that God makes and that we make to each other are important and binding.

You may be saying to yourself that I read too much into this natural phenomenon of water and light that often occurs after a storm, and maybe you would be right. But if we don’t look for God in these things, then how will God come alive in us? How will God speak to our hearts or encourage our spirits if we don’t look for beauty and promises in this world?

On this wedding weekend, we grabbed hold of this rainbow sign and claimed it for our own. We claimed that God’s banner of presence was over Chase and Ashlyn. We leaned into the rainy weekend and found that showers bring blessings and that between the showers you can stand under rainbows and set off fireworks. Between the vows, the laughter, and the tears, God was present. God was shining the light of love upon us and reminding us that God is with us all the way.

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