I shared this earlier this morning on Rich's Facebook page and wanted to share it here as well.
I've blogged and wrote about Rich's passing but something I wanted to add here on his page for those reading was what was brought out at the memorial service about how everyone felt like Rich was their best friend. I believe this is how Jesus was with those who followed Him. Everyone felt such an intimate personal call from Jesus to leave what they knew and follow Him, so they did, yet there was some confusion about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. I know the usual take away from that verse is about serving others (greatest among you is the servant of all) but what stood out to me was the point that there was confusion about it in the first place. Its as if they all felt so personally favored by Jesus that the idea of any one of them being more important to Him than another confused them a bit. Rich was the same way. There was a strong mantle upon him that made whomever he was talking to feel very special.
I hung around Rich a lot, especially in my 20s and 30s. I saw this play out dozens if not hundreds of times. Complete strangers would spark up conversations and within minutes be spilling intimate details of their life to him. Despite his size back then, Rich had a gentleness that elicited trust out of people in a very real way that to this day continues to be very rare, and very Christ like.
I was raised in the denominational church and I remember the first day I came to Heartsong when I was all of 16 years old when based on someone else's conversation with Rich at the counter I put 2 and 2 together that Rich moved in the gifts of the spirit. I was raised to fear anyone involved in that of course so I mustered up the courage to ask him... "So are you one of those charismatic people?" He just got that signature gentle smile that let me know asking the question was ok and said to me "Ya know, Mark, all these labels we use in the body of Christ today and really isn't it all about Jesus anyway?". Looking back on it, that is exactly how Jesus would have answered the question. Less than one year later I was filled with the Spirit myself and a hunger for more of Jesus was ignited in me.
Something else I feel strongly impressed to share here. As I was driving around last night just trying to process the last week here, I felt the Lord show me that certain powerful things can happen that usually only happen at a person's natural death. I remembered Hebrews 7,8 and 9 about how the death of the testor (Jesus) was required for the new will (covenant) to be enforced. Then I heard the Lord say that from RIch's death will form several brand new alliances and fresh relationships. I was reminded about how John and Mary were at the foot of the cross when Jesus said Mother behold your son, and son behold your mother. John and Mary were perceiving loss but thru that loss they were both gaining brand new intimate family based relationships.
Those of us here that remain have witnessed the passing of Rich and we all certainly perceive that loss. We should also hear the Spirit of the Lord say to us to behold each other in new ways as the loss of Rich will birth forth several new partnerships, alliances and closer personal relationships than have perhaps never existed before.
Let me be the first to issue a public apology to anyone and everyone if I have ever done anything to offend or irritate any of you. I am very open to anyone adding me on here who perhaps has felt for whatever reason they couldn't or shouldn't. I would love to hear from anyone by phone or personal message here who has any issue or problem with me so we can put it under the blood of Jesus once and for all. I believe this is an unusual season of restructuring and for we as a collective body to discern it and get it right, we will need to let go of preconceived ideas and notions, many of which are very dated in the past anyway.
With Rich's seeds of relationship sown so carefully and deeply into each of us who knew him, let us all water those seeds and begin to see brand new life begin to emerge as Jesus does what he always does... making all things new.
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