We started the evening by my mom lighting Sabbath candles. A Rabbi that my grandfather strongly influenced led the prayers in Hebrew and it was so beautiful. Our family loves and honors that the roots of our faith began with Judaism, and we think the traditions are so special. It was really neat, because the Rabbi said at the end of the prayer that we look forward not for the first coming of the Messiah, but we dwell in the anticipation of the SECOND coming of the Messiah (because we believe as Christians that Jesus was and is the promised Messiah, as prophesied in Scripture). I always love when Jewish tradition is combined with our Christian faith.
The man of the night. :)
My mom gave a beautiful tribute to my grandparents. Even my Dad got a little teary-eyed. :)
Two of my sibs....
My brother tends to influence others to do things they might not normally do.....like posing for the picture below:
I loved where I sat at the table, because I got to watch my grandparents' reactions to everything that was being said.
My brother saying hello to Baby. And he's really not as creepy as he appears in this picture.
As I was sitting listening to the countless things people were saying that night, my mind immediately went to the movie Mr. Holland's Opus. It's an incredible movie, where the main character, Mr. Holland, has a dream of composing a beautiful opus. But instead, "life" happens and he ends up teaching high school music for around 30 years. He pours his soul into his students and gives his all to making music real and exciting and relevant to these kids, but at the end of the movie the district decides to cut the music program.
As he's dwelling on what the last 30 years have meant, he experiences a crisis of feeling like it's all been for nothing. Among many personal obstacles and hardships, and combined with the strain of teaching, Mr. Holland never got to compose that opus that he was always writing in his head.
On his last day of packing up his classroom, his son leads him to the auditorium, where thunderous applause erupts. The room is filled with past students and lives that Mr. Holland has touched. One student that he particularly influenced ended up as the governor, and she addressed the crowd:
"Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life, on a lot of lives that I know. And yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. And he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each one of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony, Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. And we are the music of your life."
As I was sitting at my own grandfather's banquet (something he never expected in a million years, to say the very least), this scene resonated with me in a profound way. My grandfather has been saying for most of his adult life that he wants to write a book, or a book has been in process. I know I've heard him reference it my entire life. Almost all of the speakers that night mentioned "H.D.'s book" in a candid way, and we all laughed because we've all been waiting for YEARS for this book!
As I looked around the room, the governor's speech came to my mind. Instead of music, I thought, every single person in this room is my grandfather's book. WE are his book. Countless lives, discussions, lessons, conversations, and "moments" that have happened between each one of us and my grandfather. . .he's done so much more than put a pen to paper and have it bound into a book. Lives have been changed for eternity because Poppy always prioritizes people over anything personally important to him. He adores people. Like Mr. Holland and music, my grandfather desires more than anything else for JESUS to become real and exciting in their lives, and he wants them to come alive in Him. His heart has influenced thousands, from heads of state to a waitress in a diner. I'm so thankful that just a small, SMALL percentage (yes, I think 500 people is a small percentage!) of the lives he's touched were able to celebrate him and my grandmother (because let's be honest - behind every great man is a great woman!).
Poppy, know that once you DO write your book, it will be incredible and a priceless treasure to all who read it. But most importantly, know that what you and Nana have created with your lives pleases the Author of Life more exceedingly than you can imagine.
"A Savior who cares cannot be represented by people that don't." - H.D. McCarty