Laverne Swanson Rayburn, R.I.P.

Betsy and I have just returned from the funeral for a most remarkable person, the mother of our pastor. I wondered who would be officiating the funeral since I never thought that a pastor would perform the funeral service for their own mother. Yet, Dr. Rayburn noted that he also did the funeral for his father as well as his oldest sister. The sermon was remarkable in that it not only honored mom but reminded all of us how we are all new creations in Christ with personal exhortations.
Laverne was a special person in our life. We met her when she moved to Tacoma from St. Louis, Missouri. Her husband was the founding president of Covenant Theological Seminary, but died in 1989, leaving her a widow for 23 years. She moved to Tacoma in 1999. She would hold coffee clatches for women, of which Betsy often went. She was always at church, sweet and friendly but motherly in her firmness to what was right.
Laverne had a life that was mostly quiet and behind the scenes. Yet, the number of people that she influenced in her life is difficult to count. I think of the great influence that her husband had on the world, in establishing Covenant College and Covenant Seminary, with the forming the PCA denomination, in commissioning and sending Francis Schaeffer to Europe, in influencing countless students that attended Covenant Seminary and are now pastors or leaders in church and society. Little of that influence would have happened if it wasn’t for Laverne being there.
To the family, including the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Laverne, Betsy and I offer our deepest sympathies. The loss is only assuaged by knowing that she is with the Lord and we will all too soon be with her also. To Laverne, I offer a song often sung at German funerals, and a favorite of mine…

1. Wo findet die Seele die Heimat, der Ruh?
Wer deckt sie mit schützenden Fittichen zu?
Ach, bietet die Welt keine Freistatt mir an,
Wo Sünde nicht kommen, nicht anfechten kann?
Nein, nein, nein, nein, hier ist sie nicht,
die Heimat der Seelen ist droben im Licht!
2. Verlasse die Erde, die Heimath zu sehn,
Die Heimat der Seele, so herrlich, so schön,
Jerusalem droben, von Golde gebaut,
Ist dieses die Heimath der Seele, der Braut?
Ja, ja, ja, ja, dieses allein
Kann Ruhplatz und Heimat der Seele nur sein.
3. Wie selig die Ruhe bei Jesu im Licht!
Tod, Sünde und Schmerzen, die kennt man dort nicht.
Das Rauschen der Harfen, der liebliche Klang
Empfängt die Erlösten mit süßem Gesang.
Ruh’, Ruh’, Ruh’, Ruh’, himmlische Ruh’,
Im Schoße des Mittlers, ich eile dir zu!
4. Bei aller Verwirrung und Klage allhier,
Ist mir, o mein Heiland, so wohl stehts bei dir!
Im Kreise der Deinen sprichst „Friede!“ du aus,
Da bin ich mit deiner Gemeinschaft zu Haus!
Heim, heim, heim, heim, ach ja nur heim!
O komme, mein Heiland, und hole mich heim!”