THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A
MORRIS BRASWELL VISITATION
ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
THE REVEREND BARRY GRIFFIN
I hate it when preachers get up to preach and end up crying. Some people respond well to that. I really hate it. I think preachers should have something to say, stand up and say it, and then sit down. On the other hand, maybe when preachers cry it just means they care.
Truth be told, I’ve been crying some lately. Last month the wife of a dear mentor from my college days died, and I preached at her service in Valdosta. Five years ago I preached at my mentor’s service. And just recently I’ve shed some tears for former parishioner Morris Braswell. I’ve cried for him, for his wife Madeline, for his daughter Audra, for their friends, and for Morris’ young grandsons in particular.
Morris died too young.
Many of you knew and loved Morris. You knew that he was a long time St. Augustine’s parishioner and a well respected judge in Clayton County. You knew that he retired last year and that shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with cancer. Morris put up a brave fight. Madeline and Audra and all their family members fought bravely with him. But he died. His burial service was at Church of The Resurrection, Sautee, February 11.
The rector of Resurrection, Father Scott Kidd, was very gracious to me. He invited me to speak before he preached the sermon.
I didn’t have that much to say. Mostly I shared a dream I had about Morris. Actually, I’m told it was not a dream. I’m told it was a visitation. It seems Morris came to see me.
On Wednesday evening, February 8, two days after Morris died, I fell asleep in my recliner. That’s typical for me. I do that most every night.
But February 8 was different. As I slept in my recliner Morris Braswell walked into my home. It was definitely Morris, but he was dressed oddly. He was wearing a different kind of suit. It was a very nice suit, but it was a suit of patches: many different patches of very bright colors; orange, yellow, purple, vibrant colors. On top of that, his suit had rhinestones. They were shining. Morris was shining.
He was also wearing a crown. It was a paper crown: a Burger King crown, the kind you can get at any Burger King drive-through.
Morris came to visit dressed in this way, and I noticed his unusual appearance. I didn’t comment, but I thought to myself: does everyone in heaven dress this way? Or is it just Morris?
I kept those questions to myself.
Morris sat down in the rocking chair opposite my recliner. He looked happy.
I said “Morris, how is it?”
He broke out in a huge grin. Morris always had a great grin. “Good,” he said. “Really good.” And he added: “Now I have a mansion of my own.”
That was the end of the dream. That was the end of the visitation.
Morris honored me with a visit. He told me eternity is really good. He assured me that all will be well. Today I share his message with you. Eternity is good. All will be well.
I still don’t understand why people in heaven dress the way they do, but that’s okay. The eternals can dress however they please.
I will always remember Morris Braswell. There are so many good things to remember about him.
When all is said and done, how could I forget Morris? There’s always a Burger King nearby. Every now and then I’ll pull into one. I’ll go through the drive through. I’ll order a medium fries and an unsweet tea. And, in honor of Morris, I’ll ask for a Burger King crown.
I’ll wear it proudly.
So long, Morris. We’ll see you in eternity. Can’t wait to see that mansion of yours.
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