This summer marks five years since we suddenly lost my wife Tracy’s mother. What follows is the sermon I preached at her service of death and resurrection.
Prisoners of Hope: The Eulogy for Nancy Ruth Crittenden
Delivered at Memorial Baptist Church in Staunton, Virginia
June 28, 2013
It was Good Friday 1997 when I was a seminarian at the Divinity School of Duke University and made the decision to travel back to Virginia, to the Northern Neck to spend Easter with my family, worshipping in the churches in which my parents were raised, the churches where I had spent the Easters of my childhood, reasoning that when I graduated and entered our United Methodist appointive itinerant system as a clergyman, I would no longer have this opportunity to spend Easter in these congregations, as I would be serving a church of my own.
However, that Good Friday evening, I changed my mind. The transmission of my little pickup truck was proving ever more sketchy in its reliability, and I was afraid of getting stranded in the dark atop the Rappahannock River Bridge, so I pulled off the road and called a classmate of mine serving a congregation in rural Louisburg, North Carolina, asked if I could spend the night, and spend Easter with him, and he agreed.
In retrospect, where I went wrong was in failing to call my girlfriend and tell her of my change in plans, my girlfriend Tracy Crittenden, one of Nancy’s daughters, Tracy who became my wife fifteen years ago. This was before cell phones were ubiquitous and she had no way to find me. She never received the call that I had arrived safely at my parents home, which led her to the obvious and inescapable conclusion that I had driven into a ditch and been eaten by wolves. When I returned to Durham on Easter afternoon, my answering machine was filled with frantic messages from Tracy, Nancy, and one from the State Police, who had apparently heard about the wolves.