“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”—Thomas Campbell.
Thus read the bottom of the commemoration card yesterday at the service we attended for one of our pastors. A Service of Witness to the Resurrection in Celebration of the Life of John. H. Boyle
Think of a warm, gentle, quiet man who took part at a very young age in the WWII liberation at Dachau. After he witnessed the results of these atrocities, he was “called” to become a pastor, committing his life to acts of goodness, healing, and peace.
John Buchanan, pastor emeritus, described John Boyle as a long-term colleague and friend who “acknowledged the human condition in all its complexity.” And as a pioneer in pastoral counseling who started the counseling center of our church, “not to proselytize,” but as a “tangible expression of God’s love”.
The service concluded, solemnly. Taps, the presentation of the American flag, the Scottish bagpipes in honor of John’s Celtic heritage.
At the reception following, I heard stories of John’s care and wisdom at disrupting periods of people’s lives; of his comforting presence in all encounters; and of his Sunday Prayers of the People.
It was during those prayers that I’d sit in the pew and feel like I was participating in an intimate talk with God. John’s calming voice, gentle cadence, careful word choice, and reverent tone drew us into a hushed presence, locking out the traffic sounds of Michigan Avenue.
Those prayers in which John Boyle sensed exactly my needs that day.
One example from our church’s website:
“Suffering God, as our Lord was mocked by his torturers, so are we mocked by the questions that haunt us. Who am I? Why am I here? What’s it all about? Is this all there is? Where am I headed? Is there life after death? They mock us, these questions, for our answers are never enough and only provoke more questions. We soon learn that all our attempts at mastery over what is ultimately mystery are in vain. Teach us, dear God, how to live with mystery with faith and courage in the face of it. In the midst of the darkness of mystery and of the unknown, may the light of your love and of your Word made flesh in Jesus Christ be enough for us to entrust ourselves to you.”
—John Boyle, “Prayers of the People,” March 9, 2008
Amen! The comforting words of John’s ministry will live on in our hearts.
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You may read more of John Boyle’s prayers and sermons here.