I attended the 45th reunion of the Marshall, IL high school class of 1967 this past weekend. The reunion brings back a lot of memories, and has me thinking again about human relationships.

I remember that in High School, and not too long after I graduated from high school, that I began to experience a conversion experience and was being called from my wayward way of life to what I believed was a more ethical and Godly way of life. I left high school and traveled with my Uncle William McCulley, and brother, Joe Cooper in my uncle’s new 1967 Ford Pickup to Birmingham Alabama, in the days not long after Dr. King was there, where I was to live with my Aunt, Gladys Lemeron, and uncle by marriage, Dr. Everett Lemeron, who taught accounting and business classes at Samford University. I was to attend Samford University. All these were new and exciting experiences for the poor farm boy I was, who had attended Marshall High School.

The first year I attended Samford, although I was being called by God at the time, my life was not the epitome of righteousness, by any means…. In high school, I had been contemplating my religious upbringing, and thinking about War and Peace, and other ethical precepts. During these days of the Vietnam War, these and other beliefs were brought to crucial and decisive points. During college, I made decisions to follow what I believed and still believe are the Peaceful and Nonviolent ways of Jesus. Not knowing of the works of such Catholics as Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day who were fellow Catholics, and before the second Vatican Council and the allowances in 1970 for Catholics to be Conscientious Objectors to war, I left the Catholic Church and associated with an Historic Peace Church, the Worldwide Church of God, which was an offshoot of the Church of God, 7th Day, one of whose leaders, A.N. Dugger, had obtained Historic Peace Church designation for the Church of God, 7th Day in the early 20th Century. The Worldwide Church of God (WCG) also retained that Peace tradition. I also, due to my beliefs at the time in application of the 10 commandment as normative for Christians and mistakenly believing all people, began to observe the Sabbath, as a member of this Church, on Saturday, the actual 7th Day of the week.

The reason I am explaining this short bit of history, is that my Peace and Nonviolent beliefs, and especially my Sabbitarian beliefs resulted in my Aunt’s giving me a choice to give up this “foolishness” or get out of the house. I chose to follow my beliefs and I got out. One Sunday morning after an ultimatum from my aunt, I packed up my possession, mostly books, in my VW Beetle, and left. I think I had two trips in the VW to get it all.:):) In time, I could not afford to continue all the way through college, and a few of us young men in the WCG joined forces and rented a house together. We liked to make wagers with each other on occasion. I will share with you a couple of relevant wagers… I was a bookworm, and Donny Parker, realizing this, dared me, since I was changing my way of life, to throw away all the books that were valuable to me, just to show my commitment to this new way of living. I did. I threw away most of my college textbooks, except the ones that were propping up a used bed I had in place of a broken leg. I threw away at his dare also, my 1967 Marshall High School Annual. I forget just what the wager was that time, but another time, he made a wager with me that he would give me all his Bibles, (he had quite a collection) if I could do 100 pushups. Since he was a couch potato, and could barely do one, he thought he had a sure bet. I however, had been a farm boy, throwing around bales of hay and working hard on the farm, and I whipped the 100 pushups right out and won his Bibles. I still have them.

At the 40th High School reunion, the one before this last one, some of my High School friends, knowing that I no longer had an annual, found one for me and several of them signed it as they had done years ago in 1967, making notes of wishing me well, as they had done before. I referred to it before going to the 45th reunion to familiarize myself with people I had not seen in such a long time.

What I am getting to, in a roundabout way, is lessons one can draw from Reunions….

Never dispose of the ones you love, or hate for that matter, regardless of their race, religion, or nationality. God, for instance, did not so love the “Americans”, that he gave his only son… He loved the whole world. I wonder sometimes if religious folk and politicians really believe that….

So, I have another 1967 High School Annual, given to me by those who love me, yet know of my sins, some of them, anyway, and they still hopefully love me anyway, like God loves me. This class of about 110 people, we know, but do not know completely, all with different interests in life, with children and grandchildren, or no children, all live together in Eternity now, which Eternity does not begin when we die. One reunion each 5 years will never allow us to really know each other, but if we all live in and continue to live in Eternity, there will be time to continue, even after we die, to know and love one another as well as everyone who has ever lived and died.

We have time.

We have time forever more to be the person we were imagined to be by a Divine being who created us all… Our time does not end when we die. From Eternity past, before time began, the essence of our being, the essence of our spirits given to us by God, resided with God, and will return to God when we die. Upon our death we will anticipate a reunion with God, our resurrected body, and with each other. We were not just “included” in his love, but our human spirits which can only come from God, “are” actually expressions of his eternal love. It appears that it is our free will choice that the expressions of the Divine in us continue to be included in that Divine love. There is a Hell, according to the Bible, but perhaps what we might ask ourselves, once one is resurrected and sees the unfathomable love of God, Will anyone choose to be in it? Hopefully, nearly everyone will chose reunion with God who has promised to draw all men unto Himself.

We anticipate this grand reunion of the universe that will occur someday, a reunion of much larger scale than that of my 1967 High School reunion, a grand reunion where all spirits are joined together, even all things under heaven and earth, and in heaven (which may even include fallen angels and fallen humanity) under the feet of the Lord, whom Christians call Jesus. It is wonderful to imagine this upside down Kingdom, this upside down reunion, where the poor are made rich, and the rich made poor, where those in ill health made well, where prisoners are set free, and debts are forgiven, where little babies who died, and perhaps even aborted fetuses are given a thousand figurative (or real) years to live and choose God for Eternity. A time where we can all learn to know and love one another, and know better the God who loves us so much.


Will you be there? You have been invited…. See you there?

Just thinking about reunions…. There may be another Annual to look at and think on, one much larger than that of 1967 Marshall High School Annual… Could it be entitled, “The Book of Life”?

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper
Tuscaloosa, AL

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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