“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” – Romans 14:7-9
Last weekend, the community lost a good friend. Donna Wiegel, who has served as the registrar, and the primary liaison to hotel properties for the ELCA Youth Gathering died unexpectedly.
First and foremost, Donna loved her family. Deeply. With all her heart. Molly Beck Dean, the Director of the Gathering described Donna’s love for her family as “fierce.” It’s a good word. Whenever I would see Donna, she loved to tell me about her family. She was proud and passionate.
Donna’s life was well-described in her obituary:
“Donna found joy in the simplicities in life. She adored her dogs, reading her library books, drinking coffee (black only), bicycling, gardening, and relaxing in the sun on the beaches in the Caribbean. Donna was passionate about her daughter, her granddaughters, life, and happiness. She did not preach her moral and religious beliefs, she lived them. She was the angel. Donna was loving and kind to every person she encountered. She was the best, most loyal friend a person could ever have. Donna was a fierce lover of justice and champion of the marginalized. She was a justice seeker, and a positive peacemaker.”
Donna was a friend to all those who worked with young people in the church. She had a difficult, complicated job, but she handled it with grace and skill. She was concerned that congregations and young people had good experiences through the ministry of the gathering. When someone called her seeking help or assistance, she would go out of her way to assist them. Every time. I know, because Donna helped me and my group out, many times.
On Monday, the Network’s Board of Directors was in Chicago at The Lutheran Center for its regularly scheduled spring meeting. We were blessed to be present for a prayer service for ELCA staff, led by Rev. Stephen Bouman and Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
One of the scripture readings Stephen shared was from Romans 14: “whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”
At times like this, we cling. We cannot begin to understand why things like this happen. But they do. And so we cling to the promises of the resurrected Christ. We cling to the words of wisdom that remind us that Donna belongs to God. No matter what happens…no matter the circumstances, Donna was a child of God, loved completely.
Because Jesus lives, Donna lives. Because Jesus lives, we too shall live.
As a community, a Network, and as a church, we give thanks for the life of Donna Wiegel. And we give thanks for how God worked through her.
And today we give thanks for the gift of the resurrection. For Donna, the promises of God are fulfilled.
Thanks be to God.
Networked in Christ,