Mt. Holly Cemetery
May 28, 2019
Dr. David R. Denny
Drummondtown Baptist Church
Revelation 22:1-5. “Then he showed me a river…”
I normally read Rev. 21:4 where John tells us that in heaven there will no longer be any tears or pain. But when I reflected on all his escapades out on the water fishing, I thought how much he must love this river of life, clear as crystal, that runs through the main street of heaven now that he has some time on his hands.
Psalm 23—“The Lord is my shepherd…”
This was HB’s request on a visit I made to see him at Westminster. He was watching a western when I walked in. He greeted me with a huge smile and I sat beside him. After talking a while about all sorts of things, I told him I had to go and asked him what text would he like me to read to him. I was pleased to hear him say Psalm 23. I read it slowly and the words seemed to bring us both comfort.
A Service of Thanksgiving for H. B. Rew
Prelude Jo Anne Coniglio
The family of HB Rew welcomes you here this morning as does the congregation of the DBC. This will be a service of thanksgiving for HB. There will be some sadness, but there will also be joy and thankfulness for his life. I am glad you have come to join us.
Dear Lord, HB touched all of us in some way. He made our lives better. We give you thanks for sharing him with the people of the Shore and beyond. Bless this time together this afternoon as we remember his life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hymn #330 Amazing Grace
John Newton (1725-1807) who throughout his 20s was a ruthless slave ship captain known for his brutality. Nearing the age of 30, after a serious illness, he found the Lord, entered the ministry, and wrote a haunting confession with words like these: I once was wretch, a man lost and blind but now I see.
Scripture Reading #1 Matthew 6:25-34
Hymn #48 Morning Has Broken
(Traditional Gaelic Melody—Psalm 57:8-9—“I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord.”
Scripture Reading #2. John 14:1-6
Remembrances Dr. David R. Denny
Choral Response Hymn #71 On Eagle’s Wings
A Service of Thanksgiving for H. B. Rew
David R. Denny
I’ve known HB for 1095 days. I met him first in late May of 2016, and now I am conducting his funeral in late May of 2019. 1095 days. I’ve only been given three hours to speak so I don’t think I can cover all those days. So I think I will limit it to just three encounters that will reside with me forever.
The first time I met HB was on May 29th, 2016. I had been invited to the DBC to speak as a fill-in while they searched for a minister. I was living in Chesapeake and teaching 8thgrade civics and English, a job I loved by the way. I remember standing in the pulpit of the historic church on Front Street, this pulpit where I stand now. It was a delightful morning, but this is not the encounter I wish to convey. That occurred later in the early afternoon at the inquisition down the road and around the bend.
HB, always a man to get to the bottom of things, was on a small self-appointed group of four to wine and dine me and with great subtlety to find out if I was some kind of kook, heretic, or misfit (like he had done in all of his bank interviews over the years). In other words, he invited me to lunch to toss me in the air like chaff on the threshing floor. His partners in crime were Leslie his wife, and Wayne and Dale Parks. It was four against one. I remember that day and I will remember it forever.
The place HB chose was one of his favorite domains, the dining area of the Eastern Shore Yacht & Country Club. When I saw the place as I got of my car, I thought ‘man, I’m in with the millionaires’!
The waiter seated us at a white table with a view of the water. I remember scanning the dock to see which yacht was theirs. We began a little stiffly picking gingerly at the shrimp and grits, sparring with gentle jabs, dissecting each other’s words carefully. But in the midst of this interview, something happened that I will never forget. After the third or fourth question, HB tossed all the formality out the window and we just became friends. (You know that has happened when everyone is sharing food on their plates. “Here, said Leslie, take some of my shrimp. You just have to try them). The rest of the meal had nothing to do with credentials, my ancestry or my bloodlines. The rest was just campfire talk, getting to know one another, sensing that maybe this friendship was some type of divine summoning. (And it was). This tells me so much about HB…
My second memorable encounter with HB and Leslie occurred on December 17, 2017. It was in the chill of mid-winter and little did we know that in a week or so the entire Shore would be blanketed with a thick carpet of snow that turned Henry’s Point into a white landscape choking all the roads and leaving my wife and me happily stranded at the end of Sea Breeze Avenue by the oceanfront.
The day I speak of for this encounter was a Sunday and Leslie had taught her SS class of which I was an avid follower. HB was there too tossing in his occasional comment. When the church was over HB approached and invited my wife and me to lunch at the Island House. I had learned by now that he did not have a yacht but he did have a van and it was into this van that we all gathered as he drove us to the restaurant. When we arrived we sat next to the window. Leslie and HB looked regal. I snapped a picture of them and you can see it if you go to my Facebook page. Leslie wore a hazelnut colored dress with an onyx and gold necklace. Her flounder was piping hot but she paused long enough for me to snap the picture. HB was sitting with his arms crossed and a beaming smile with a whisper of mischievousness.
This was all wonderful of course, but it is what happened when we left that I particularly remember. I figured it would take us about 7-10 minutes to get home. But now that HB had been fed and the van was so warm and comfortable, he got the grand idea to take us on an impromptu tour through the backroads. Leslie sighed but consented and off we went. I thought there couldn’t be that much to see on either side of Drummondtown Rd, but I was so wrong. We crisscrossed that road back and forth a hundred times stopping at every home and chicken shed in Accomac. Midway through this glorious tour Leslie had had enough and ordered him home immediately. He just smiled like he had heard all that before and continued merrily on with the tour.
And this was when I learned just how much of the Shore was in his DNA. Every turn in the road was etched deeply in his soul. Every house along the way had a story and every story had a name of someone he knew. I’m a come here, but he was an Eastern Shore man from top to bottom.
My final encounter with HB is different than the others. It happened after HB had died but before I knew of his death. It was on Friday, May 24t,2019mid-morning.
I was sitting at my computer writing the Sunday sermon. I was not thinking of HB at the moment. After all, I had just visited him a few days earlier and he was fine. My sermon was titled “Living Beneath a Smile” and it came from Ps 67:1: which says: “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—“
I was lingering on this one word SHINE, just reveling in the joy of the word. It was used elsewhere of a rising morning sun drifting casually over the seaside marsh summoning songs from the shore pipers and making the little bean sprouts in my garden perk up. I leaned back from the computer and just marveled at God’s face smiling at me when something broke my reverie—the phone rang!
I didn’t want to leave this scene in my mind but the phone persisted. So I picked it up and the voice on the other end shook me to the core. “HB has just died,” he said. I could scarcely take it in. I spoke for a minute or two and then put the phone down. Slowly the imagery of the sun, the smiling face of God, returned in full glow and I looked at the text I had just written: “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to smile upon us—“
And in that moment I realized that this text was a sign to me. This Psalm will forever be linked to HB in my mind. For beneath the shining face of God in Ps 67 I saw HB strolling down heaven’s promenade beside the river of life flowing clear as crystal. HBs suffering is over now. He’s not locked in a hospital bed. He’s living beneath the smile, singing some Eastern Shore song on heaven’s highway, rejoicing in His Lord and waiting for the rest of us to join him.
24The LORD bless you, and keep you (HB);
25The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
26The LORD lift up His countenance on you,(HB),
And give you peace.’