Mar28WedMarch 28, 2018
Frank Bartholomay was a sincere Christian man who always called himself a “loner”. He did not like crowds, nor did he like attention. This very unassuming man was a member of our Church for many years. He and Brenda were a part of the community life of the Bible Fellowship Church of Denville.
My purpose here is to relate some of the things that I remember about Frank that had an impact on my life and the life of our congregation.
He was always ready to help at Church for special events. He gladly used his pick-up truck to help us transport chairs to our local park for our annual Easter Sunrise Service. When he was well, he could do the work of two or three of us. I still see him on the bed of the truck hauling chairs!
Frank did a lot of work in and around the Church over the years. From caulking windows to fixing things and pointing the brickwork, Frank was always ready and willing to help with any project of that type.
One thing stands out to me, in a very personal way. One year before our Easter week services, I asked Frank if he could help me “distress” our life-size Cross that we use in our Good Friday service. He was more than glad to bring over a bucket full of hammers and axes among other tools. It was late afternoon and the Cross was outdoors at the bottom of the Church steps. We put the cross there typically before Good Friday and then bring it inside and put it up in the front of the Church where we have our traditional service. Those who attend the service are asked to write their name on the back of a small card that has the word “Forgiven” on the front. It is a very simple and moving service. Each one takes a hammer and then pushes a rough cut nail through the paper with their name on it, and one by one, hammers the nail into the cross. It is remarkable to hear those nails going into the wood, and a reminder of the terrible cost Jesus paid to take our sins to the cross. It is a graphic reminder of Christ's love for us in taking the punishment for our sin upon himself.
Frank and I were pounding on that old cross with different tools, making it look old and abused. At first, I have to admit, it was “fun”... for the first few moments. Then, hearing and feeling the axe digging into the wood, and imagining in my mind the making of such a cruel tool for crucifixion, I was stunned at the emotions that flooded my mind and heart. It was a deeply Spiritual moment for both of us. As we worked on the cross, pounding in “years” of usage, both Frank and I became silent. We both realized that this was not just an exercise in “distressing” furniture. It was a holy moment of standing before the cross – close up and personal. Frank and I stood shoulder to shoulder, wondering at the thought of Jesus taking our sin upon himself in this horrible manner. What a great price Jesus paid so that “those who believe in Him will never perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
All those thoughts flooded back to my mind and heart as I prepared my mind and heart to “say good-bye” to a friend – Frank Bartholomay.