Today we celebrated the life of a dear friend - Deacon Joseph Curtis. He was devoted husband, and a friend to many - most especially including the homeless population of Seattle, for whom he was instrumental in creating and tirelessly working for several successful programs, including the Matt Talbot Center, the Lazarus Day Center, and the Nightwatch program. Deacon Joe was a banker by day, a non-stop advocate and minister to the less fortunate among us by night, and between times, an enthusiastic sheep farmer. His homilies were notorious for always including bits about his love for Lois, his wife of fifty-four years, the lessons he learned from his homeless friends, and also the lessons learned from his sheep. It was incredible that he could work those sheep into nearly every Sunday’s readings, regardless. We were all shocked one year on Good Shepherd Sunday when Deacon Joe was not the one giving the homily. It seemed almost heretical.
The prelude for the service today was most appropriate – “He Shall Feed His Flock” from the Messiah. Deacon Joe fed both his real flock and his metaphorical flock. The gospel reading -one in which the sheep are definitely the good guys - was very apt as well – “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat, when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink, you clothed me when I was naked, visited me when I was sick…..” Or something like that. I am not a very accurate scripture quoter, but you get the idea.
We will miss Deacon Joe, but he is in a much happier place now, and I am sure that when he arrived, that there was quite a band of folks whom he helped in this life there to greet him and carry him triumphantly home.
PS. These wonderful pictures were taken by my friend Maria.
PPS. Deacon Joe thought that ice cream was the staff of life, so the funeral meats included three huge vats of ice cream and all the fixins. Yum.
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