Friday, September 07, 2007

Norma Patricia ("Pat") Burke: March 25, 1927 - September 4, 2007

One of the greatest saints for Christ I have ever met on this earth went to meet Jesus face to face this week. I've known Pat for a bit over two years. She served with me at Grove Presbyterian Church on the Christian Education team. Pat was 78 when she first signed up for the team. As Pastor Dave Wilson observed at her memorial service today, at an age when many people are deciding it is time to be done with serving on committees, Pat was eagerly offering up her service.

She only came to Grove a few years ago. I was speaking with one of her sons last night at the viewing, and he told me that she called him around that time and said she may have found a church. She liked Grove because it was a church of "doers." "It is a small church," she continued, "and the congregation is a bit on the old side ... but we can do something about that." And she did. With Pat's help and guidance, Grove Sunday School program has exploded over the past few years. At the time she joined my daughter (then 3 years old) was really the only regularly attending young child that I can recall. Now Grove has four Sunday School classes for different youth age groups (plus two for adults) and last month we welcomed 25 young kids to Vacation Bible School. We even now have a nursery for children under 3 during both the Sunday School and worship hours. This is the type of work God can do when He calls a soul like Pat to the job.

When our Christian Ed team was first getting started, Pat suggested that I serve as the moderator. I had never even served on a church committee before, let alone led one. But that was Pat. She had a way of nudging you out of your comfort zone without you realizing it was happening, and doing it all with the biggest smile you can possibly imagine so you were comfortable the whole time. And she wouldn't just leave you there, but constantly gave you continued support and boosted your self-confidence.

I got to see Pat on Sunday, 2 days before she went to be with our Lord. My daughter sang "Jesus Loves Me" to her, a memory that her family tells me stuck with her until her passing. Pat's enthusiasm for Christ was unfathomable. If the apostle Peter had modeled himself after Pat Burke's passion for Jesus, who knows, maybe he wouldn't have denied Him 3 times. In Pat's final days, as the inevitable bore down on her, she never denied our Savior and never lost that wonderful smile.

As I type this I know that Pat is enjoying the fruit of her labors. Her work is done. She has heard those words we all long to hear, "Well done my good and faithful servant." Take care of her God. I know you will. As for those of us who remain here on earth, we'll miss her.

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