“Well Done, Long-Standing Servant”

      What we love most about you, Lee, you do at a moment’s notice.  You preach your heart inside out.  On the spot.  At the call.  That ancient wise tough busted heart you wear on your sleeve anyway.  Or under your rainbowed hat.  Or in your prophetic beard.  You preach weeping first.  Like Jesus at the tomb of his friend. Taking in the full depth of the tragedies we make and are made of our lives.

       But Jesus never settles for sentiment, either.  A luxury none can afford.  Jesus puts his butt on the line – just like you.  Confronting ornery smelly scary old death in the tomb.  Jesus calls us out to new lives.  No matter what they may cost us.  Because life’s the only thing worth dying for in the end.  That has been, that is, that will be your call, Lee, to us, through us, with us, among us, all these years – and far beyond.  You are one life-calling, life-changing, life-giving spirit.

       We know you will find us, come to us, stand with us, wherever we are.  It’s the plain man, the Okie, the son, the brother, the husband, the father, the worker, the priest, the friend, the pastor, the priest in you that make the prophet real and invincible.  You are so able to name the name of Jesus and share the body of Jesus wherever you are, whoever you’re with. Jesus never had a feistier follower!

      You say Jesus saved you – “He saved me from being a quiet supporter of the empire and is teaching me to be an outspoken opponent of the abuses of the powerful.  “He saved me from accepting several types of bigot-ous behavior and is leading me to learn to be accepting of others who represent themselves differently from me.  “He saved me from being a supporter of power and control and is calling me always to claim love and freedom as the most significant and humane ways for us to live together.”  If such a Jesus saved you, there is hope for us!  For we in our own ways and our way together learn Jesus from you.

      So often you are the first, the last, and even the only one standing, for us, – for just us and forjustice, – in streets where kids are dying, at gates where weapons are made,over backroads where refugees flee, on conference floors where analysis fails, through countless meetings where energies flag, in any makeshift pulpit, at any makeshift table, where word needs to be spoken, bread needs to be broken, beside anyone of us when our hearts are sinking and scared.

      Lee, you are still “da bomb!”   The one Livermore never thought to make.  In answer to the old question, if we were arrested and charged with following Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict us, we plead guilt by association, – with you!  We love you. We carry on in your name. We will, with your help, keep talking the talk -- keep walking the walk – keep wearing our buttons and ribbons –  passing out leaflets and membership forms – inviting the whole world to life!

–John Auer, rewritten from Lee’s Retirement Party