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From the Pulpit: Unlike the song, we don’t have to be ‘afraid of dying’

March 18, 2018 GMT

According to my Fitbit I just walked 15,000 steps on Galveston Beach. Not more than 10 minutes into my walk, I noticed myself singing the old Glen Campbell song, “Galveston.” I decided to play it on my iPhone and was unprepared for the emotion that suddenly overcame me.

I remembered my dad. When Dad was in Vietnam we used to send cassette tapes back and forth with him talking to us and us recording messages back for him. Oftentimes Dad taped over music tapes and when the message was done music started playing. One of those tapes had Glen Campbell’s song. We were drawn to it because mom and dad had taken us to Galveston on a number of trips to Houston to see our grandparents. It wasn’t until years later that I understood the lines of the song about a young man longing for his girl in Galveston. He can “still see her standing by the water ... looking out to the sea.” In the midst of the war, he longed to be with her on the beach, but feared he’d never return, “I’m so afraid of dying.”

I also remembered my brother, Eric, who died only a few weeks ago. I still think of him as I lay down to sleep at night and when I get up in the morning. That Glen Campbell song became one of Eric’s childhood favorites. I still remember that album was one of the first records he ever had. Mom and Dad bought it for him for Christmas or a birthday, and played it so often that he ingrained it my subconsciousness. Ironic, I thought, that Eric’s oldest son, Shawn, now lives in Galveston.

With the sudden flood of memories of my dad, who died more than 20 years ago, and of Eric, who died only weeks ago, I welled up with emotion, and for a moment, Dad and Eric were so close they were practically with me. Their presence faded with the final notes of the song, but my heart and mind were filled with gratitude and joy for precious family memories.

My tears are dry now, because I know that life doesn’t end with death. We don’t have to be “afraid of dying.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything.