Leif and I have the joy of meeting many extraordinary people, but sometimes we meet the super-extraordinary.
Sherwood Carthen was one of them.
Three years ago, Leif and I first met Bishop Sherwood at the Thrive Conference and then got to spend an extensive time with him by Godhappenchance at Mount Hermon Family Camp in California. He taught the evening sessions, I took the mornings. As a big bundle of warmth and joy, we soon took to Sherwood. With sparkling eyes and a warm smile, Sherwood seemed to ooze Jesus. I found his bold preaching entrancing. He had a gift for using the tone of his voice to draw listeners in. One minute we'd be leaning into his soft whisper, the next cheering his hearty roar.
The more we interacted, the more we discovered Sherwood was one of those people who made you feel like a million bucks even when you didn't feel like you had two cents to rub together.
He was gracious enough to invite me to teach at his church in south Sacramento. I was thrilled. It was the first time I’d been asked to speak at a primarily African American church. To be honest, the highly interactive congregation threw me. I'd never had people beat on the bleachers as I drove a point home.
Sherwood was kind enough to invite us back. And with each visit, we got to know his congregation better.
You can tell a lot about a pastor by his church. And what we experienced at BOSS (Bayside of South Sacramento) was wildly abundant love. The people splashed with the affection and kindness of God. This was a church where the worship echoed fervently off the walls. I suspect angels stood on tiptoe to get a better glimpse of the people’s adoration of God.
Sherwood didn't pastor a church on the rich, well educated, upper crust side of town. He pastored on the other side.
Let me describe it this way: When the city of Sacramento held a large-scale event, they called local churches to donate money and volunteers. When they called BOSS, they asked, "Can you provide security?"
And BOSS came out en masse.
Sherwood and his team grew a congregation that loved God and took that love outside of the walls of the church. Sherwood poured his heart into his flock and the heart of church beamed with love and sacrifice.
I don't know why God chose to take Bishop Sherwood home this week. I know he was taken a lot sooner than any of us wanted.
And he will be missed. Though I don't doubt he's already rubbing elbows with those table-rousers known as the disciples and made Jesus chuckle at least half a dozen times by now.
Sherwood was famous for saying “Amen, all by myself” whenever he preached.
In case you ever wondered, Sherwood, you were never, ever saying amen by yourself.
And now, more than ever, we know you’re not saying Amen by yourself. The whole of heaven is with you.
We love you, Sherwood.
And here are a few more beloved Sherwoodism below:
“Following the Holy Spirit is like following a person who refuses to use his turn signals.” –Sherwood C. Carthen [Tweet this]
“If you love Jesus, tell your face about it.” –Sherwood C. Carthen [Tweet this]
“Living like God is in control brings me peace and brings God glory.” –Sherwood C. Carthen [Tweet this]
“If I am anything, I am just what God made me.” –Sherwood C. Carthen [Tweet this]