One of the greatest influencers in my life passed away as that Sunday drew to a close after some weeks in hospice. My father-in-law, Joe De Ruvo, was truly a great and gentle man used mightily by God and will be missed by many. Earlier that morning, May 28, 2017, I preached my final sermon as the Intentional Interim Pastor for the First Church of Christ in Lynn, MA.
My final sermon focused on the Last Words of Paul–not the last words he uttered in life but his last words recorded in the New Testament to a special young pastor in 2 Timothy chapter 4. Along with his command to Preach the Word and Keep his head in the midst of ministry challenges and persecutions, the older Apostle shifted young Timothy’s attention from implementing Paul’s teachings to emulating Paul’s life.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Those words took on a special meaning for me as I read them in the context of watching a man who had walked with God for ninety years look forward to meeting his Lord face to face. That calm assurance comes from knowing that he could face death confident that it is merely a passage to the place Jesus has prepared for him.
I generally enjoy people but there is a handful of people in my life that are truly impressive and have made a difference in my life and the lives of many others as well. My father-in-law is one of a very rare breed. Thirty years ago, I married the love of my life. I knew I was truly blessed that day. But wait, there’s more! As a bonus, Joe De Ruvo transitioned from the father of my girlfriend to my father-in-law. I gained a faithful prayer warrior, mentor, and role model when Joe De Ruvo transitioned from the father of my girlfriend to my father-in-law.
This past Saturday, June 24, 2017, friends and family gathered to celebrate this special life. This memorial service was unlike any other I had ever attended. By God’s grace, I was able to record the service. I will post it here in four parts for those who were not able to attend. I also share the video for the benefit of those who never met my father-in-law but still want to benefit from the remembrances of those who were deeply impacted by his love for his God and his love for them.