Many of you may have heard already, but for those who do not yet know, our brother in Christ, Aaron Wolf, editor of Chronicles magazine, husband of Lorrie and father of six, fell asleep in Christ late on Easter Sunday night.
Anyone who spoke with him at the various services of celebration over the holy days may testify how full of special joy he was this weekend. Two of his children were confirmed at the Easter Vigil. His parents were beside him as he sang, "At the Lamb's High Feast" on Easter Day. He mentioned to several of us that he was having the best days of his life. We are told that over Easter dinner he boisterously proclaimed his joy and faith, was in the highest of spirits, and even played the piano for the family.
Such was the great confession of this man of faith, who desired nothing more than to see the Gospel in his Lord shared by his family, his church and his friends. This is how he died, like Simeon departing in peace after seeing his Lord face to face in the holy Sacrament, singing along with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, singing of the gift of Christ's body and blood to sinful men for our salvation.
In such ecstasy, the Lord of the Harvest called him higher still, to rest at peace in Christ until the Day of our reuniting.
I, for my part, having felt extreme shock, disbelief, subtle rage, and apathetic despair, now am discovering a growing acceptance of what our Lord has spoken in his Word: that all such evils the good Triune God shall turn for the benefit of his people. I may also now say that I can only hope for such a marvelous death.
I do not hope for the tragedy of the circumstances. I do not rejoice at the deep wounds of need the family must now endure. I hope to be remembered by my children on my last day as I know Aaron will be remembered by his: as a man who knew there was one thing needful, and in that, found utter and insatiable joy which he readily shared.
We should not belittle the very real shockwaves of grief, pain and effect the loss of this marvelous man will have upon our local community, as well as the wider world who knew him through his writing and speaking. But we shall not grieve as those who have no hope. We shall not believe that such experience of the wages of our sinful condition is in any way sufficient to overcome the justifying power of the person of Christ. As Paul writes, it is in the midst of these very things as they occur to us that we are more than conquerors because of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, and what Jesus is coming again to do.
Aaron Wolf's death is, above all, a witness against the grave, precious in God's sight, as the Psalmist sings. His many legacies as a scholar, a philosopher, a humorist, a southern gentleman, a dear husband and excellent father, all glow in the reflection of the faith which, though the body dies, ensures that the person lives in Christ and, yea, shall never die.
There is much more that must come. Funeral arrangements will soon be made. We will release that information here as we have it. There are immediate needs which the family has that we are striving to attend to. Nightly dinners are being scheduled for delivery. If you are local to Rockford and would like to help, please call the Sue with the Church Office at 815-979-3952. The family has special dietary needs so please work with us to provide them what they truly need at this time rather than acting on your own. For this we thank you.
There will be other long term needs that we shall not forget. When our Lord bids us care for widows and orphans, he speaks foremost of those who dwell within his holy congregations. We will need your help long beyond this week as a variety of plans are put into place to ensure that Aaron's children are fed, educated and sent into the world as the gifts he has already made them to be. More information will be forthcoming at this location as we have it.
For now, we ask that you exercise patience for the sake of endurance. This will be a marathon, not a sprint. Conserve your energy, grieve in hope, prepare to join the family in laying Aaron's body to his temporal rest, and above all, remember, that he is not dead. He is only sleeping. Soon enough, Jesus shall wake him.
These are words he shall speak to us all soon enough. Thank God that Aaron Wolf has ears to hear them.
-Pastor Jonathan Fisk
Admin. Pastor, St. Paul Rockford
He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.