By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
The Rev. John Lombard helped many people become ready for the final transition of life. He did not let the difficult disease of Parkinson’s defeat his feisty spirit. John was ready to go, ready for the final phase of life on earth. John lived a full life, both in sickness and health.
John was a courageous, humorous, thoughtful, and compassionate man. It was a privilege to get to know John on a personal level. At his memorial service, many people shared about the deep humility that John displayed. To know John was to love John.
His dear wife Bev stood faithfully with John ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health’ in their forty-five years of marriage. During the difficult last phase of John’s life, Bev kept an online blog where she shared daily about her life with John. Bev has been a great inspiration to many by the way that she has not let John’s chronic illness defeat her. Her deep faith kept her going, because she knew that she was not alone.
As my honorary assistant priest at St. Simon’s North Vancouver, John was a tremendous help, covering for me when I spoke at various conferences. In 2004 when I had an opportunity to take a three-month sabbatical, John ‘held the fort’, enabling me to be deeply refreshed and renewed. Because of John’s covering at St Simon’s NV, I was able to travel to eighteen cities across Canada with 250 francophones and anglophones in a journey of reconciliation called La Danse.
In Nov 2004 our 10:30am contemporary service moved, because of overcrowding, to the Maplewood School. This was made possible because John covered for me at Maplewood School until I could drive there from Deep Cove after our 9am traditional service. John’s loyalty was a rare gift to me. I knew that you could depend on John through thick and thin. John was a man of his word. His yes was yes and his no was no.
John was not a yes-man. Many times when John saw a way that we could improve, he would freely share with me his insights. As his voice became weaker because of Parkinson’s, I had to listen very carefully. His mind remained sharp, even as his body faced serious challenges. I remember John’s helpful suggestions about how we could improve the quality of reading scripture on Sunday morning. His ideas resulted in a very informative Saturday morning Readers’ Workshop led by his wife Bev to about twenty of our readers. There was a remarkable strength in John’s spirit, even in the final days of his being in hospice. The last time I saw John, he really enjoyed viewing my iphone photos from our recent holiday in Hawaii.
One of my strongest memories of John was at the annual BC Christian Ashram retreats where John would tell funny stories and play harmonica during the talent show. John was a very gifted harmonica player who with his quirky sense of humour intentionally played the wrong harmonica notes in one song. John did this with a twinkle in his eye.
Born in Montreal and raised in Windsor Ontario, John spent most of his ordained ministry in southern Ontario. Instead of merely retiring, John and Bev moved to Greater Vancouver to become missionaries with WEC international. They served at the Gateway Intercultural Training Centre and led short-term mission trips to Fiji, Guatemala, and South Africa. After St. Simon’s NV adopted John and Bev as part-time missionaries, John wrote wonderful updates about how God was using them in raising up young leaders around the world. As a member of the national leadership team for the Anglican Mission in Canada, John co-ordinated prayer initiatives for the Coalition, sending out regular prayer updates. As a leader in VMTC, John prayed deeply for healing of others in body, mind and spirit. He gave and gave and gave. We miss John deeply. But we are so grateful that he is now with Jesus in his nearer presence.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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