On this All-Saints Day 2016, I’ve been thinking about one particular saint that continues to inspire me. His name is Ambrose Harris. I had the great privilege of being Ambrose’s pastor for the last eight years of his life on this earth. Ambrose was one of the few senior adults in the first church I served as pastor. He and Dorothy were a treasure to the whole church.
My kids loved Ambrose. He was their kindergarten Sunday School teacher. He let me bring my kids to fish in the pond on his property, and he always found some excuse to come down to the pond and spend a little time with us. He had a way of getting down on a child’s level and making a child feel valued and loved. And his rich sense of humor made him all the more charming to children and adults alike. He once told his grandkids on a walk in the woods that they needed to keep their eyes on the path because sometimes you could find money on that path. And they did find money on that path … because Ambrose was up ahead dropping it on the ground.
He was also a man of great integrity. Integrity comes from the word integer or “one.” Ambrose was “one”—the exact same person in whatever venue he happened to be. He’s the guy who would return change if a clerk accidentally gave him too much.
Ambrose was a man of simplicity. He did pretty well financially in the furniture business but always lived a simple life—never felt the need to adjust his lifestyle to his income. This meant he always had more money to give away.
Ambrose’s last year or so was spent suffering with colon cancer. But you know, it didn’t change him a lick—didn’t diminish his faith, didn’t squelch his sense of humor, didn’t isolate him from others. By being his pastor through that ordeal, I learned from him how a Christian is supposed to face things like that. And when he died, while we wept on earth, I swear I could hear joy and laughter in the heavens. A lot of folks there were glad to get him home.
A young mother in our congregation decided to make a contribution to the American Cancer Society in Ambrose’s memory. So she asked her young son (who knew and loved Ambrose), “How much do you think we ought to give?” “About a million dollars,” he said.
There’s this line in the hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy. It is addressed to God and goes like this:
Holy, holy, holy, all the saints adore Thee.
On this All Saints Day I just want to go on record that I adored a saint named Ambrose Harris. And I look forward to renewing our friendship someday in heaven.