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Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
TITLE: An Uncle Four Times Over
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I am an uncle, four times over. Unfortunately perhaps, I have never been an aunt, although I have met quite a number, - most of them quite nice ladies. I have also met quite a lot of uncles, some of whom I have appreciated, admired or otherwise avoided.
On my mother’s side there were seven, one of whom was my Uncle Gilbert. This gentleman (one of my favourite uncles) was an evangelical pastor, since passed to glory, whom I last met as an aging saint when he was visiting from his home and church in New Zealand. Although he was then 89 years of age, he was still preaching, - and a wonderful preacher he was. He also played piano and on the occasion of his visit was able from memory to play many of the old Gospel songs which we thoroughly enjoyed singing. During the week he was persuaded to visit some retired persons in a nursing home. He brought tears to their eyes and joy to their hearts as he played their favourite hymns, and also many other old songs. I’m looking forward to meeting him again one day soon.
On my father’s side there was Uncle Murray, also retired in New Zealand, a former Major in the British army. He was a fine Christian who, with his wife, lived on their large cattle property just north of Auckland. I met him only once when he was in charge of transporting troops from New Zealand and Australia to the Middle East.
My father’s only brother, I had a fond idea that when Uncle Murray passed to his great reward he might remember me in his will. Sadly, that idea did not occur to him as it had to his nephew. His wife, Lulu, however, did remember me. She mailed to me one of Uncle Murray’s Scottish ties in the Urquhart tartan. The rather amusing thing was that I already had an identical tie that was in much better condition than the one Lulu sent!
Having been an uncle now for several years, I think that there is a number of things to be noted about this privilege. Firstly, there are the joys of being an uncle. I think of Carol and Bob (not their real names) who invited my wife and I to their wedding in Wales. We were living and working in Europe at the time, but there were a number of reasons why we wanted to respond. One was that it was Carol’s second marriage; her first had ended very sadly. Another was that Carol’s father was unable to travel from Australia to “give the bride away” and I was asked to accept that privilege. We went, of course. I did my duty as stand-in Dad, and also assisted at the wedding ceremony.
Secondly, there are the sorrows that occur, which nevertheless give opportunity to comfort others and also to be enriched ourselves. Sadly, Carol’s second marriage also eventually broke down. It fell to my wife and myself, as Uncle and Aunt, to do all we could, mostly by letter and ‘phone, to help to bring comfort and counsel to Carol and her young daughter. Who can ever estimate the contribution that uncles and aunts are able to make through letters, cards, and these days by email. Sometimes, of course, such support goes on for months and even years.
And thirdly, there are the many privileges of this relationship of Uncle or Aunt, sharing the joys and the sorrows, being there for them, “being Christ” to them.
Space does not allow me to tell the story of my help to my brother’s family at the time of his death several years ago, and how God gave us most clear guidance about releasing him to go to be with the Lord.
Uncles and Aunts. Here is high privilege. Here is a special ministry. Let us give thanks to God if we are so blessed as to hold such high office.
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