CeCelia Miljevich entered her heavenly rest on Monday, November 20, after 93 years of life. She was the last remaining charter member of Calvary Baptist Church—over 60 years of membership in our church!
I had the honor of being Millie’s pastor for only a very short time. I’ve been the pastor at our church for not quite six years. Millie was a member here for over ten times as long as I’ve been the pastor. She was a member here not only longer than I’ve been alive—she was a member here longer than my parents have been alive.
Realistically, it’s unlikely I’ll ever have the impact on our church that Millie had in all her years. I’ve heard a couple of our church folks say that Millie’s passing represents the end of an era at the church, and this is right.
It is good for us to ponder a life of faithfulness. Throughout Scripture, we see examples made of God’s faithful servants. Indeed, one famous chapter of the Bible (Hebrews 11) is sometimes called the “Hall of Faith.” This chapter is a catalog of believers who continued in the faith all their days. These are examples for us, encouragements to us to follow in their steps.
At the funeral, we considered a text from Psalm 71: “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
The psalmist’s words found fulfillment in Millie’s life. She was not only able to declare God’s power to another generation: she was able to speak of God’s power to multiple generations.
The irony of the funeral service this week is that, as much as I had the chance to get to know Millie, she wasn’t one who wanted folks to make a fuss over her. I expect that she, like the psalmist, would prefer that we make much of the God she loved.
The reality is that Millie’s faithfulness is admirable ultimately because she had placed her faith in a faithful God. And God’s faithfulness to Millie is not found primarily in the good life that she lived, although she did live a good life. God’s faithfulness to Millie is just being found out now, as Millie has gone beyond death to the everlasting life promised her in Jesus Christ.
In the words of the psalmist: “Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.”