We received word last week that Randy Nelson passed away peacefully at home. It appears he died in his sleep. This was a shock as it was unexpected. Randy seemed to always be here. Since before I started as the pastor here he was the Office Administrator. He handled scheduling, producing bulletins and newsletters, and doing the myriad of other things office administrators do. He was very good at it. Often before I would begin to plan for an upcoming event Randy would have already put whatever preliminary information in my box was needed or would have already started in on whatever work needed to be done.
Randy not only took care of the officeâ€™s needs but tended to many of the other areas of congregational life that can get overlooked. I had to talk to Randy once because he was buying all of the paper; both for the copier and the toilets. He bought a lot of supplies no one else knew about. He put in countless hours at his job. Because he was a veteran there was a limit on what we could pay him. But the time and effort he put in were worth at least 2 peopleâ€™s efforts.
I remember once Cecile and I were working in the office. Randy had stepped out to attend to something. I asked Cecile how long she planned to stay working for GSLC and she said if anything happened to Randy she would probably step down. I thought about that for a second. I said, â€œIf anything happens to Randy I think Iâ€™ll step down!â€ We were joking. Kind of.
Randy remained faithful in his gardening at Good Shepherd. When he stepped down as Office Administrator he simply switched work stations. His passion had been gardening for years and we had been blessed by his putting in time in our gardens. Those â€œretirement yearsâ€ for Randy led to some of the most beautiful gardens this church has ever had. Randy continued to come to GSLC most every day, doing backbreaking work, lovingly tending to the flowers and plants that he provided. I have heard some of you wonder aloud, as Cecile and I had previously, â€œWhatâ€™s going to happen when Randy canâ€™t do this anymore?
Well, that time has come. I will forever be grateful for Randy and thankful to God for bringing him into my life. He was the strong and silent type. But within that huge Swedish frame was one of the gentlest hearts I have ever known. Some people didnâ€™t get to know that side of Randy because his exterior could be a bit gruff.
I will miss Randy. But our work continues here. Randyâ€™s work was a mirror reflection of his love of our God of creation. When I think of how he, with his big hands, delicately planted all of those flowers I am reminded of how Godâ€™s hands created each of us.
So, now, whatâ€™s going to happen now that Randy is gone? I would suggest a few things. First of all, letâ€™s thank God for Randy and realize a little more deeply how much we mean to each other. Second, we were given a huge gift with all that Randy did. Rather than wondering â€œWhat now?â€, why not use what Randy has shown us is possible as an inspiration? The greatest tribute we could give Randy is to keep this place beautiful.
Is gardening a gift of yours? Have you ever admired the beauty of our gardens and gave thanks to God for the beauty around us? Then we could probably use your help. We will need to address how to maintain the gardens.
My last suggestion is to find a way to make a difference. Randy sure did. Because of Randy we have each been blessed and reminded of Godâ€™s beauty and love. What is it that you can do to leave that sort of mark on our world?