Remembering a Precious Flower in the Flock

As a pastor, you collect the lives of your people in your heart like one collects fragrant and beautiful wild flowers while walking down a mountain path. You take them home. You look at them and you remember each turn in the path and how that flower marked the turn. You never let go of the flowers. Not one. A pastor who loves can never let go, in his heart, of any single lamb in Christ’s flock where he served. This is what John Donne might have been saying in his Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII (1623):

“The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member.  And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language…”

Thus, in hearing about the home-going of one of those lambs, I am moved to prayer. I am a part of her life and she is a part of mine. We are, together, the Body of Christ. And all the more when you have fed the Word to that lamb, when you have served the emblems of the Body and Blood of Jesus to that lamb.

Today, my prayers are with my friend, mentor and trusted elder, Dr. David McCallie, and his family, as they receive friends for the visitation tonight and the services tomorrow for his bride, now with Christ Jesus in heaven. Mrs. Maddin McCallie, his good wife of so many years, so many trials, so many good times and bad times, births and deaths, joys and sorrows, was the perfect picture of Christian service, graciousness and faithfulness. Her works to her family, church and community are well-known to those of us who knew her and loved her and were recorded beautifully in the reflections on her life. When I think of such a woman, though, I think of this passage:

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3.4).

The beauty of Jesus Christ alive in her was what I shall always recall in Maddin Lupton McCallie.

I shall always cherish the times of prayer with her, and her quiet, behind the scene guidance of me as a pastor. She was the “pastor’s friend.” Did you not know that seminaries only begin the process of training a pastor? The flock , a good flock, also trains their shepherd to love them, to lead them like Jesus and thus to realize their calling. Maddin did that so well with me. Thank you. Thank you Maddin and thank you Dr. McCallie for leading me and teaching me to be a pastor.

My wife, Mae, represents us there as, alas, I am on annual training for the US Army chaplaincy this week. Mae’s  presence represents not only our desire to honor the life and memory of our beloved friend, who was for all practical purposes an unpaid but valued staff member of my pastorate there (and that is verified for she and Dr. McCallie always came to our Christmas parties for our staff) but to mark the years of our stay with that flock. May the Lord anoint this time to His glory.

Just make sure, all, that there is a clean, pressed white table-cloth on any reception table. Maddin would have wanted that. “Mike, aren’t we doing this for the Lord? Then He deserves the best,” I hear her saying. “Yes, Ma’am. We are doing this for the Lord.”

Maddin Lupton McCallie (1926-2010):

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalms 116.15).

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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