Arrangements for Pastor Tom Higgins.
Visitation at Anderson-White-Mullen Funeral Home, 11101 St. Charles Rock Road, St. Ann on Thursday, August 17th 3 pm - 8 pm.
Funeral at Immanuel United Church of Christ, 221 Church St., Ferguson on Friday, August 18 at 10:30 am
Memorial Service at Immanuel United Church of Christ, 141 North Service Rd. West, Wright City on Sunday, Sept 10 at 2 pm
Today came the tears. The flood of emotion held in check for the weeks on a medical roller coaster and the hours and days since Tom's death broke loose this morning in a slow, steady stream of salty tears. A crack seemed to have opened in my soul and the tears flowed, painful, needful, sad and healing. It was without sobbing, free of sound, simply a river of feeling.
I arrived at church early to prepare, gently draping his robe over the chair, adding his glasses (which in his life were NEVER where he needed them when he needed them) and a gift box made for him several months ago by the children. Carefully attaching the circle of flowers I had arranged to mark his presence and his absence, I looked at the lovingly prepared scene beside the alter as the crack opened and tears came as water to a parched and weary land. Thank God the physical nightmare is past for Tom. O God, now to learn to live without so incredible a human being as part of daily life! Dear godbywhatevername, help me be strong, help me be, help me.
There is no shame in the tears. Shame would be if a person such as Tom died and no one cried. Shame would be if the only emotion were a selfish sense of personal loss. Shame would be to allow the story to be only about these final weeks of illness. There is no shame in the tears, for they are testiment to who Tom was and whose he is.There is no shame because this is not merely about my own grief, but also about what this world has lost in his passing. There is no shame because the story is about millions of moments when this man touched the hearts and wounds and pain of others with his compassion, care and counsel. The story is about one who teased and joked and laughed large, about one who sang from the depths of his soul causing those around him to sing better than we were able. There is no shame in the salty droplets falling for they mark not despair but sorrow and bear witness not so much to the end of "here" for this friend, but more refresh the soil of his beginning "there."
Today came the tears...and there is no shame....
To all those who have had the great good fortune to have Rev. Tom Higgins in our lives I offer love and compassion and sympathy. Our beloved pastor, friend, colleague, mentor and brother in Christ died peacefully this morning at the hospital in the presence of his family. Tom has been clear for some weeks that he was absolutely ready to go to his eternal home and was longing to leave this world for reunion with his Lord and so many loved ones who have gone before him.
So great a loss causes our tears to flow for we shall miss him in ways we can only begin to imagine. Yet, yet grieving the passing of so passionate a minister and person, we do not grieve without hope. May our tears also be tempered with laughter as we remember his love for humor. May our wailing be countered with singing as we think of his voice leading hymns. May the emptiness we feel be filled with the certainty we did not "lose" Tom, for we know exactly where he is in the arms of his Creator, Redeemer and Friend.
Funeral arrangements will be posted here as soon as they are announced. In this time of saddness and celebration, should you desire pastoral care, for personal conversation, or any other need it would be my great honor to be a pastoral partner to you. I can be reached at 573-560-8114 and plan to be in worship Sunday at Immanuel UCC in Wright City, for what better way to honor Tom Higgins than to worship in the midst of his "flock".
Again, my love, compassion and sympathy to you all. Please allow me to be with you in the journey in any way I can be. We serve a Risen Savior to whom Tom has returned.
Holding you each and all in prayer,
Pastor Dianna Niemann-Harris
UPDATE 8-4-2017 for Pastor Tom Higgins
On this incredibly beautiful late summer day your friend and pastor received a visit from each of you as I provided pastoral care to him on your behalf! Tom was more alert and "tracking" mentally much more fully than any time I have been with him since he first went into the hospital! Again he asked about many people and expressed his deep appreciation for all the concern and prayers on the journey.
Before visiting I decided to offer Pastor Tom Psalm 69:1-3, 29-30, 34-36 and Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-14, 23-24. As I read the first passages with Tom, it was abundantly evident the Psalm reflected where Tom was physically and mentally previous visit. The passages from Psalm 139 just as clearly illuminated where his thinking and condition were today! Just another God-incident where the Holy One guided the visit. After, we shared communion. Though Tom is not yet able to eat by mouth, we touched the wine soaked bread to our lips then returned it to a small dish. In the Roman Catholic tradition blessed elements which are served but not consumed are buried in a designated sacred space. I explained to Tom the piece of bread and wine from today would be gently buried among the flowers at my home overlooking the river and he nodded approval of the plan. We spoke of my help swabbing his dry mouth and lips and shaving his beard stuble as like unto the foot washing stories in scripture. It was simply a lovely and deeply meaningful visit we we shared the sacrament "for ourselves and on behalf of all those who are present with us through prayer."
Pastor Tom asked that we all continue our prayers for healing and wholeness for him and ourselves and the world. His steadfast love for the Lord and the Church continues to shine with through our friend and pastor as he faces his personal illness calm assurrance and blessed peace. Thanks be to God! Pastor Dianna Niemann-Harris
P.S. (When and as I receive medical updates from Tom's Medical Power of Attorney, Carol Pohl, the messages will be posted on the Immanuel UCC, Wright City, MO Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Immanuel-United-Church-of-Chri…/and and website http://immanuelucc.weebly.com)
UPDATE 08-01-17 @ 8:00 pm -- for Pastor Tom Higgins (edited)
Our pastor, friend, relative and colleague Pastor Tom Higgins continues on a medical seesaw still after 10 weeks in the hospital. He continues to deal with infection and other medical issues. Tom remains seriously ill with the doctors juggling his multiple risk factors with no guarantees.
The more positive news Pastor Tom asked about a number of people and situations by name and is exceedingly grateful for the continued prayers. He introduced me to several of his healthcare team, identifying me by name and saying, "She is my Pastor." He sends his grateful thanks to all at St. John UCC High Hill, Immanuel UCC Ferguson and Immanuel UCC Wright City and said he feels the prayers and care being offered on his behalf. He is working to sort through all that has happened and to remember/learn which events occurred and what "memories" are medication induced dreams. It is a confused and confusing time for Tom yet his strong faith shines through as he rests in God's steadfast love with absolute trust.
We shared scripture and prayer together. I brought communion elements however the timing of a medical procedure and sedation afterward left our communion today in shared presence and care. Hopefully when I visit Thursday we can celebrate Our Lord's Supper in the traditional way..
Tom enjoyed hearing comments left on facebook and the Immanuel Wright City website and knows what cards are received even if he feels too overwhelmed to have them all read to him. Hopefully his health issues will turn around but for now Carol Pohl, his Medical Power of Attorney advises me the "no visitors" remains in effect.
Know Pastor Tom feels your care and thoughts and prayers, drawing strength and hope from them. It is an incredible honor to serve as Tom's pastor in these days. Know each act of ministering unto him is offered as one representative of the many who are there for and with him in spirit.
May our gracious and generous God hold your spirits close along with Tom's as we continue to share the journey trusting our Gently Strong Creator who loves Pastor Tom, and each of us, beyond our imagining.
In Christ's Love, Pastor Dianna Niemann-Harris
08-01-17 UPDATE for Pastor Tom Higgins In my mind's ear I hear Pastor Tom from years ago leading a Bible Study. "Prayer," he asserted, "is always answered. The answer is one of three responses, "Yes. No. Wait." Since I have heard him share this bit in many situations. Each time I am impacted again with reality. When we pray we want Yes, we can live with Wait, but never are we desiring a No! Dear Ones Pastor Tom, and all of we who care about him have received a resounding YES! to our prayers that Tom might be freed from the C. Diff infection he has been battling!
As of Sunday, July 31, 0217 Tom Higgins is testing NEGATIVE for the infection. The antibiotics, prayers and good care have beaten this very complicated infection! I am headed to the hospital to make a pastoral call, representing each of his beloved friends and relatives and the God who so loves him (and us!). I will be taking communion along and will post an update later today or early tomorrow. Blessed Be! Pastor Dianna Niemann-Harris