Just earlier this week, someone asked me – “Is there any chance Fred will be with us at General Assembly this summer?” (No need for a last name.) The question was wistful, anticipating my response: “I don’t think so.” Now we know for sure.
It’s hard to imagine our Disciples community without Fred Craddock.
CNN calls him a preaching genius. To hear him was to be moved – before we quite knew it was happening – moved to sudden laughter or unbidden tears, about Bible passages we thought we knew by heart. Experiencing his preaching is cause enough to celebrate sharing this life with Fred for awhile.
The outpouring of stories on the internet gives us more. In Fred, genuine greatness paired with rare humility. In story after personal story, a man of impeccable integrity and genuine caring emerges – a man who took the Gospel seriously. Himself? Not so much…
Officially the Disciples have many leaders – ministers and presidents and elders. Yet for all my adult church-going life, our unofficial patriarch has been a Tennessee-born professor of preaching. With a deft analogy, an ironic quip, a telling story, he’s held up a mirror to show us who we are as church. There we’ve seen both our hypocrisy – and our potential glory.
We are going to be grieving as a community, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We give thanks for the life of Fred Craddock. And we trust that he rests fully embraced in the eternal love of God.