Yesterday my mother emailed me: “Joe Lemmons died today . . . He was 85. We will pray for them.”
Every person has an unwritten list of names, each entry filled with significance. The name Joe Lemmons is on my list.
When I was born in 1963, my parents were relatively-new Christians. They had come to New Jersey in 1961 when the U. S. Air Force transferred my father there from Alaska.
Soon after they moved to the Garden State, my parents became members of the Church of Christ at New Egypt, New Jersey. I made it to my first Lord’s Day service all of five days old. Joe Lemmons was my first preacher.
Joe and his wife, Lois, were about ten years older than my parents. My father had one older sister, but never any brothers. My mother had no sisters or brothers. So in certain ways, I think, Joe and Lois became some of those older siblings my folks never had before.
Joe was a southerner and a graduate of Harding College. He had come to New Jersey back in the day when places like the Northeast were still seen by a lot of people in the Churches of Christ as a domestic mission field. He prayed to God and nurtured others. He preached sermons, taught classes, conducted personal studies and, of course, an annual Vacation Bible School. (My older sister always thought it was cool that, whenever we sang “Booster, Booster” at VBS, her otherwise-dignified preacher would be transformed into a grouchy rooster). In the field behind our new church house, he played softball with the rest of the congregation.
I was in the second grade when my father was transferred to Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. When we moved, we said our good-byes to the Lemmons Family and to the church that my family had been a part of for ten years. Joe and Lois stayed in that part of the country for many more years, praying to God, strengthening others, telling the story.
Today I’m praying for Lois Lemmons, for the couple's children, and for all of their extended family. I pray that all of them will be given comfort and peace. I’m also thanking the Lord today; thanking Him for the life of Joe Lemmons.
“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.’” Revelation 14:13