Death keeps his reservations

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, May 28, 2023

Death holds his usual reservations. The Intensive Care cubicles and the nearby waiting room usually have a place for him to wait. He also has a standing reservation along the corridors of hospital rooms. Someone, somewhere might be holding his appointment, and Death will be close. The aged in nursing homes know his presence. He holds his space in circles of wheelchairs or in the rooms of the sleepers who are beyond any thoughts of life OR death. Even though he makes his presence known, only on rare occasions is he welcomed.

It’s when he comes with no warning that brings the greatest shock. It’s the “normal” day or evening, the routine errand or the trip to a friend or relative. Death strikes, and in that single incident turns our world into the “before” and “after” of all the days that follow.

Death struck that kind of blow this past week when I got the shock that our beloved friend, Dr. Harry Reeder, had been killed in a car wreck. He was a youthful 75 years, still steeped in wisdom, energy, and passion for proclaiming the Good News at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Our Eli, Katie and all four of their children had sat under his preaching and shared family meals together. Our Birmingham grands had been schooled in the prayed-over halls of Briarwood schools — preparatory educations that Dr. Reeder endorsed and covered in prayer.

Visiting our family there meant I would get to hear Dr. Reeder and sit in the sanctuary that always gave me a sense of great peace and God’s presence. After becoming familiar with the background of Briarwood’s founding fathers and their dedication to God and His Word, I understood that it was the prayers of godly members from the church’s beginnings that drew God’s presence into that sanctuary. Dr. Reeder wonderfully perpetuated that sense of being in God’s presence when he, an amazing preacher/pastor, stepped behind the pulpit.

Sermonettes may find their way into some pulpits, but not in the place where Dr. Reeder gave proclamation. Time always took the back seat when I heard his sermons. He stimulated my spiritual being and introduced me to deeper truths in ways that increased my spiritual appetite. I soon realized that I could feast at his “banquet table” because of his long hours of study and prayer.

I emailed him on a few occasions, thanking him for his messages and his godly leadership and influence with our children and grandchildren. In one email, speaking as a solid Baptist, I asked him questions about why Presbyterian churches didn’t have baptisteries. He didn’t delay with a response, but I chose to agree to disagree on our beliefs.

However, that was the ONLY question I ever asked. I thought that next to the Holy Spirit, Dr. Reeder knew all the answers to life, and it was all according to the wisdom found in God’s Word. He was indeed and without doubt, a chosen vessel to proclaim that Light has come to dispel the darkness.

Death gave no warning when he descended on Dr. Reeder last week. In that single instant, all who knew him and had known the blessings of his life and leadership were left with a monumental and irreplaceable human void. Now, all who loved him are left to honor his memory by heeding his teachings that always pointed to following our Savior, Jesus.

As I think of our great loss, I am deeply sorrowful. My greatest comfort is knowing that for Dr. Reeder it is great gain. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” — Philippians 1:21.

Letters to Camille Anding may be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.