Bernie had the gift of hospitality. He made people feel welcome at church, and in his home. While I was not in his inner circle of friends, I enjoyed the glow of the love of Christ in his life. One time, Bernie arranged for a big group of people from CCFC to get out of town and go for a bike ride — I don’t remember the name of the town; it was one of those quintessential little New England places, close to the sea… it was a perfect summer’s day, and it came at a time that I didn’t get out much. I remember getting ice cream and seafood with the group, and it was so tasty. I remember watching blue-green waves crest in the sea, and in distant translucent waves could be seen frolicking sea lions. I never thanked Bernie for that day. I think a lot of things he did were like that — like the financial seminars he led, sprinkled with humor particular to Bernie (who else would have used Britney Spears and the phrase “mo’ money” to describe the way the stock market worked?), his generous gifts to missionaries, the deprecating way he would do announcements at church. Last year, I listened to an old sermon tape from CCFC, and heard Bernie’s voice; he was cracking jokes, not minding being in front of everyone at all — he was a true leader in that he was willing to serve people either visibly or invisibly. Gosh, Bernie, I miss you!
Of course, we all missed Bernie the more than two years that he was sick, and he missed us, too. I remember one time Hanna Kim-Seda recounted how all Bernie wanted was a hug from Bonnie near the beginning of his hospitalization. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense to me how Bernie was taken away, why our prayers for his complete recovery were not answered the way we would have chosen. My prayer now is one of simple gratitude that we can go on trusting God whose ways are untraceable, that Bernie has entered into His glorious presence, and that his suffering is ended.
When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
- from Psalm 73:16-17a, 21-28, addressed to those who are pure in heart.
I also remember a verse written on a piece of paper on the wall in one of Bernie’s hospital rooms (which I believe is also for us):
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:10