They still don’t know what really happened to him. My friend went into the hospital for eye surgery and something went wrong. He was put into an induced coma and then seemed to recover when they brought him out of it. He was eating and talking and then … he died on March 31st. When I first heard the news, I didn’t think it was possible that this vibrant, funny and active man who was younger than me had actually passed away. Stan Jacobs was now home with his heavenly father, but he left a lot of people here on earth in shock and grief. These kind of things just don’t make sense.
On Saturday, I made my way down to Chester for his funeral. It almost seemed like the heavens were crying as big flakes of snow were falling in April. My heart was heavy and my mind was having a hard time conceiving what had actually happened. As I arrived at the church, I noticed that there were a lot of cars already there despite the inclement weather. This was going to be a big event. As I entered the church, I was ushered to the front with one last group for the viewing. I hate viewings and had hoped I was going to miss this part of the service. As I walked past the casket, I looked at Stan’s earthly body and could not accept what I was seeing. How could he be gone?
Following the viewing, I turned around and realized that the church was packed with people. There were no empty seats, so I made my way the balcony. Even the balcony had no seats and I had to find a spot to stand that had a view of the front. One thing I knew for sure, Stan would have loved this. Standing room only even at his funeral. During his lifetime, Stan was an amazing performer and had hosted many events as a Christian comedian. In this final act, so many people came out to show their love to a man who had made them laugh that it almost seemed like a party.
Sure enough, I came for a funeral and a party broke out. Right from the start, it was clear that this was going to be a joyous event and no somber affair. The band was in the house, the choir was ready and the place had an air of expectation. After introductory remarks, it all started with the blowing of the shofar. With the sound of this ancient instrument ringing in our ears, we were encouraged to break out into spontaneous praise. There was not a silent voice in the room. A little bit later, a youth choir came up to sing and “brought down the house”. A little boy, who could not have been more than ten years old, was the lead singer. This was clearly not his first performance and he was amazing. I could not help but think how praise was the antidote to grief and just what we all needed at this particular moment.
I first met Stan many years ago when he came to our bookstore as the host of the Gospel Poetry Slam that we began holding on a monthly basis at that time. This event was designed to highlight Christian poets, psalmists, spoken word artists and musicians. Stan would start things out and within just a few moments had everyone laughing so hard we were nearly crying. He found humor is the smallest things in life and loved to poke fun at the “pomp and circumstance” that surround so much of the life of the church. He would later move on to host events with some of the best known gospel music artists of the day and even made it on television. Every time I saw him, he always had a smile on his face. He was such a great comedian that he often didn’t even have to say a word and I would find myself laughing. All it took was a certain look.
As the little boy in the youth choir was belting out the song, I couldn’t help but think that Stan was smiling down on all of us a laughing himself. He knew we were grieving, but that the God he served would wipe away every tear. I can’t wait to see Stan again one day and hear his melodious voice as he tells one more funny story.