My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1:23)

The amount of interest expressed in my last post was unusual, breaking records for the number of daily visitors to my fledgling blog. Given your kind interest, I thought I should post here that my father-in-law Albert Mast passed away peacefully around 8:00 this morning.

The funeral is planned for Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m., with visitation 5-8 Tuesday evening, both at Salem Mennonite Church in Leon, Iowa. Out of respect to Albert’s wishes, the casket will be closed.

Several hours before Albert’s passing, in the wee hours of this morning, I posted this on Facebook:

I’m 40 years old, yet I’ve never seen anyone die. How strange is that, given that we live in a world where everyone dies? I’m not sure what to think about it.

I haven’t intentionally avoided being present at anyone’s death. I simply haven’t been there. (Three of my grandparents have died, but I was hundreds of miles away when each one passed on. I’ve lost a few friends, but not that many, and never in predictable situations or in times and places where I could have been present.)

On the one hand death, like conception and birth, is a sacred event and rightly shielded from careless or voyeuristic view. On the other hand, most cultures have usually been much more open about death than our culture is, and the Preacher (Ecclesiastes) said it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting. I wonder if I would be a different person if I had observed death more closely before this.

God knows, and he’s been observing all along with a wise eye.

I am glad I was present for Albert’s death. What a gift to share this moment with family, and with dear friends who have been visiting this morning.

And thank you so much to each of you who have shared kind thoughts and prayers over recent days. Your words and prayers are a blessing! Death, like birth, reminds us of our common humanity and also of our common need for new birth in Christ and–on that great Day to come–a full sharing in his resurrection.

Come, Lord Jesus!

If you wish to leave messages for the family, you may do so on Albert’s Caring Bridge site or on his Facebook page. Or, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and I’ll do my best to share it with family.

If that is not enough options, prepare to greet Albert personally after your own death. The “link” for that option is faith in Jesus Christ who died and rose to rescue you from the kingdom of darkness and welcome you into the kingdom of light.

Thank you!