Thursday, May 29, 2008


Ironically, just when I was saying that I didn't know the next time I'd cross the IL-WI border again, I now know the next three times, and they're all this weekend. Friday afternoon is the wake, Saturday is the funeral, and Sunday afternoon is a time of sharing and reflection on John's life. (An obituary and service times and locations are here; so is information on a memorial fund.)

I asked Bantam17 and Blondechick15 if they were looking forward to the funeral. They said they didn't think they would enjoy the service, but they wanted to go because it was John. "You know it's going to be a great worship service," I told them. To their disbelieving looks, I added, "One of the best services I've ever been to in my life was a funeral service for a 2-week-old baby. The father [a good friend of our family] had planned the music, and he and John led the worship. In the midst of so much grief, that service was a time of incredible rejoicing. We all were so close to heaven, it seemed. And you know John has picked out all the music for his funeral service, and who he wants to sing and do the different parts of the service."

That surprised them, but convinced them that maybe this funeral was something to look forward to. John wanted Papa Rooster to do the prayers during the service, and at the graveside, to give the prayer of interment, when the body is commended to the ground. For some reason this moves me deeply, to imagine John deciding who he wanted to bless his physical body for the final time, and choosing my husband. How often they have prayed for each other over the years.

I remember the first time John prayed for Papa R. I didn't know where he had been or that he had prayed with anyone, but when he walked into our apartment, I immediately asked, "What happened?" He had been depressed (and oppressed, I know now) for quite some time, and his whole demeanor was so much lighter and happier. "We've got to visit this church that John Fawcett goes to!" he exclaimed. And shortly after that, we started attending Church of the Resurrection. That was 17 years ago.

I remember the first time John prayed for me, as well. I am a reserved, not emotionally demonstrative person, but when John began praying for the healing of my emotional being, it was as if a fire hydrant had been uncapped! I felt so safe, though...I knew it was the Lord's doing, and his way of bypassing my intellect to touch my soul. That first prayer of John's was so significant, and so convincing to me, because he barely knew me at all. I knew that God was working through him, and there was no denying that all the gifts were alive and well in this age! That was the beginning of an incredible journey for Papa Rooster and me, that changed our ideas of ministry, of community, of worship, and of calling, and I am eternally grateful to God and to John, for all he taught us, by his life, his prayers, and his example in worship.

I have to add this, too. I wish I had a ten-dollar bill for every time I heard this comment! Folks would move to another city and then come back to Rez for a visit. Did you find a good church? we'd ask. And they'd respond that they'd found a [fill in the blank] church that they were settling into. They liked the preaching, or the youth group, or whatever--"but oh, the worship is just nothing like we were used to. You guys don't know what an amazing gift John Fawcett has! We visited every church in town, but we could never find a church with worship like Rez."

John's gift as a worship leader was not as a personality, but as someone who was in touch with the Lord's working during the services. He carefully planned the music lineup to go with the Scriptural and liturgical themes of the service, but he might switch around his own lineup at the leading of the Spirit, or spend a long time on one song if it was ministering to people, or throw in a chorus that wasn't planned. He blended the most ancient hymns with the most contemporary choruses in seamless praise that focused on God and not on the worshipper's own experience. He was an incredible pianist, who "improvised with the chords of Bach and Beethoven," as one visitor observed with amazement. He was also fond of musical puns, when he could work them in--if you thought you heard a little snippet of another song in the midst of a bridge between verses, you probably did! And he sang with a beauty and sincerity that led us all "up the stairs to the doorway of heaven," as one autistic teen, who had a way with metaphors, put it.

Fortunately John began to train up other worship leaders at Rez who now do a beautiful job of leading worship there, in their own right. But I know from their comments at The Fruitful Vine (John's wife Margie's blog) how indebted they feel to John for his example and leadership. Also fortunately, John was able to lead worship and give classes for worship leaders around the world at conferences given by Pastoral Care Ministries and Redeemed Lives--so literally tens of thousands have been touched by his gift, over the years.

My stories are just a few of the many that could be told about John. So many are indebted to him, for so many reasons. It is no small legacy he leaves behind.


Islandsparrow said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend and brother in Christ. His gifts will be sorely missed. I'm praying for the Lord's deep peace to keep his family and all those who were privileged to love him.

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

That was beautiful, Jeanne. I will keep John's family and yours in my prayers this weekend. Safe travels.

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts, earnest prayers, and indeed our whole hearts are with you right now as the service begins. How we long to be there, not only to remember John but to be with you all at Rez who we love and who knew and loved John more than we. I will try calling you next week after this big weekend. Is anyone videotaping the service? Is there any way we couldl get a bulletin from the funeral?

Peace to you all.

The Hoskins 5.5

At A Hen's Pace said...

Hoskins All--

I had already thought of saving you a bulletin! I know how much you wanted to be there. They did videotape--probably for Charlotte and Josiah's benefit--I don't know how available it might be.

Yes, call me next week and I'll tell you all about it and make sure I have your address.

Blessings on you all and on that iminent delivery...!


Margie Fawcett said...

Thank you Jeanne. That was a beautiful tribute to John. I hope your kids were surprised by the funeral and came away with a touch from heaven. All our love, Margie for all.