Monday, May 3, 2021

Ardie Burger: An Usher for God (1932-2021)

Ardie, Did You Know?

A 17-year-old young woman
Away from family, friends, and country,
Walks into the sanctuary of a church.
The sanctuary is dark, somewhat dingy,
In an area that feels oppressed and depressed.
Not unlike her soul.
Also Dark. Dingy.  Depressed.
Ardie, did you know?
Ardie, an African American man,
The age of this young white woman’s father,
At a time when their relationship was broken.
Greets her with a genuine smile,
A hug, and with his deep voice,
“Hello, Sweetheart.”
Acceptance.  Affirmation.  A balm.
Ardie, did you know?
She comes back again,
Despite the worship feeling foreign,
The people foreign,
The community foreign,
Because there is one accepting, welcoming face.
And over time her faith is stoked.
Her life is changed.
She finds her place.
Truth.  Transformation.  Trust.
Ardie, did you know?
Ardie, did you know?
Another white, privileged, Calvin student,
Entering a community plagued by poverty and racism,
Yet seen by you as a broken person,
in need of the hug and love of a Father.
Did you know she was in pain?
What were your thoughts? 
You never let on.
“Welcome, sweetheart.”  “Welcome, Baby.”  “Welcome, Daughter.”
Ardie, did you know?
I hope you can see what your gift produced in this young woman over the next 35 years.
A love for Madison Square Church,
A love for the Madison Square community,
A love for mission,
A love for the Church,
A love for God.
Would it had been the same if she had attended another church?
Would life had been different if not for that hug? That welcome?
Ardie, did you know?
I think you knew.
And you did it for hundreds of people. Maybe thousands.
And you never stopped.
I hope that when I too leave this world,
And come to the gates of heaven,
That along with the welcome of Jesus,
That you will be there,
Saying, “Welcome, daughter.”
Rest in peace, dear Ardie.
Brother, Elder, Father, and Friend.
An Usher for God.