In Memory of Matthew Charles Ryan, July 6, 1931-February 24, 2021
During this month’s Pastor Corner, I would like to pay tribute to my dear father-in-law, Matthew Charles Ryan. Chuck was a true father figure to me and a consummate Christian gentleman. There is so much I could say about Chuck’s noble character but I will only mention a few vignettes. Chuck had a good sense of humor and used this good gift to moderate otherwise frustrating experiences. Once while traveling, my mother-in-law realized she had missed her turn and was frustrated by the circumstance. Chuck attempted to encourage Gretchen by saying, “Don’t worry, darling, whatever you are doing is magnificent!”
On another occasion, back in the days when I served as youth pastor at Lansdale Presbyterian Church, my in-laws, Sarah, and I were positioning a Christmas tree in the narthex of the church. We couldn’t decide which side of the tree should be facing out. Finally, Chuck said, “Maybe we should just put a (tree) skirt around it, and it will look fine.” As one who re-uses phrases excessively, Chuck and I got our money’s worth out of repeating the line that we should just “put a skirt” around it and everything will be just fine in many other circumstances. Chuck was also a man of good will and tact. Even at those very few times when Chuck and I did not agree on a certain issue, he treated me with gentleness, tactfulness, and charity. If someone can be gracious and tactful in the midst of a disagreement, then they can practice that virtue at any other time. I will always treasure and appreciate Chuck’s gentle and gracious spirit.
Lastly, Chuck was faithful Christian who trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior, and Shepherd. He loved passages such as Psalm 23 and John 10 which speak of God as the Good Shepherd and Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd of His people. Chuck continued to grow in his faith and his knowledge of God’s Word. On many occasions after a worship service, he would ask how I understood a certain point in the Scripture reading for that morning’s service. He was genuinely inquisitive about the teaching of God’s Word and sought to be a conscientious Christian believer and follower of Christ.
Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7,8,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
It is with hope in Christ and the promises of eternal life and the resurrection at the Last Day for all those who trust in trust in the Lord Jesus, that we take our comfort. It is this hope that we mix with our tears as we miss Chuck. I am very thankful that his departure from us is temporary and not permanent. It was a custom before I retired for the evening when I lived at home with my parents that I would say to my parents, “Good night. I’ll see you in the morning.” I have thought of this often since the passing of my parents and now my father-in-law. These Scriptures give me such hope: 1 Corinthians 15:52
…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
Psalm 30:5 Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
1Thess. 4: 13, 14, 16-18
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep… 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
I look forward to the morning of the Day of Resurrection, when I shall see them all again. “Good night for now, Chuck, but I will see you in the morning.”