Pastor Bob Tousey
Christian Service: Light Religion
This morning we gather to remember, celebrate, and honor ________’s life. Some of you have had the honor of knowing ______ since birth while others met ___ along the way. It does not matter when you met _____ because ___ touched each one of you in a special way. Today you feel emptiness in your heart and have tears running down your cheeks, but I can assure you that the emptiness you feel today will eventually be replaced with the wonderful memories you have of life with _____ and ___ memories will soon trip a smile from your lips.
I am going to share with you an Irish Funeral Prayer which actually reads more like a poem than a prayer. I believe the words have special meaning today.
______, longing for one more day. When we lose someone we love it seems that time stands still. What moves through us is a silence... a quiet sadness... A longing for one more day... one more word... one more touch... We may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. We will see you again someday, in a heavenly place where there is no parting. A place where there are no words that mean good-bye.
I would now like to offer a prayer of Thanksgiving.
Holy God, we praise your name
for all who have finished this life loving and trusting you,
for the example of their lives,
the life and grace you gave them,
and the peace in which they rest.
We praise you today for your servant, _______
and for all that you did through ___.
Meet us in our sadness
and fill our hearts with praise and thanksgiving,
for the sake of the One who loves us all. Amen
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He has me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside the still waters.
He revives my soul;
He guides me on paths of righteousness for His glory.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no harm,
For you are with me.
Your rod and your staff do comfort me.
You set a table in sight of my enemies;
You anoint my head with rich oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall abide in the house of the Lord forever.
This Psalm is one of the most familiar readings in all of scripture. Its words are even recognized by those who are not familiar with scripture. It is almost always read as we remember a loved one who has died.
While troubles may abound, agony may strike the soul, there is this one comforting thought--"the Lord is my Shepherd." As a shepherd seeks to guide and care for his flock, as he seeks fertile pastures in which his sheep may graze, as he always stays close to his flock and helps them grow and develop, as he lovingly embraces and raises up the sheep who have been injured, so does God, our Shepherd, watch over His flock. We, the members of the flock, may sometimes, in our despair, doubt the justice of the Shepherd; we may not understand His ways, but we are confident that He is concerned with our welfare.
"He has me lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters." And so, even if sometimes, as is inevitable, "I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no harm, for You are with me, your rod and Your staff do comfort me." For I know that the rod of the Shepherd to is there to guide me, however challenging that path may seem to be, however puzzled I may be by the troubles that have befallen me. My faith in the Shepherd gives me the confidence to proclaim, "Only goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall abide in the house of the Lord forever."
Thousands of years ago Solomon wrote this passage in the Book of Ecclesiastes, but has become popular in the secular world as well and it has come to be known as a time for everything and I’d like to share it with you.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to harvest;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
In this passage we are reminded of the importance of time. Every event in our lives has a time to begin and a time to end. We all have clocks in our home, many wear watches on their wrists. We are always reminded about time. You knew that this service began at ____. You know what time you must be at work and what time you leave work. You know the week ends on Saturday and begins on Sunday. Nothing lasts forever. Early in this passage we are reminded that life does not last forever either. There is a time to be born and a time to die. When I was young my mom explained to my brother and I that people are loaned to us, some for a very long time and others for a very short time. _________ was blessed with a life of _____ years. We do not know why each person’s life span is different but we do all know that death will eventually knock on each of our doors. It is an eventuality that we cannot escape. Therefore, it is important for us to make the most of the time we have, to love each other, value each other, forgive each other, remembering not to waste time on the sadness and disagreements of the past but to make the most of today. We should remember to make the most of the gifts that we have been given.
We are also taught in this passage that there is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Today is clearly your day to mourn. It is healthy to cry and be sad but only for a time. Eventually, we must leave the sadness behind and go on to live and be there for one another.
There is a time to weep and a time to laugh. Right now, is a time for both. We weep for our sadness, but we laugh when we remember happier times. When I was a fire chaplain, I often spent time with families after a loss. First, there would be tears, shock and denial but eventually someone would put on a pot of coffee, the photo albums would come out and stories would be told. When I saw the family laughing and crying at the same time, I knew the healing had begun. These are both powerful emotions and I encourage you to exercise them in abundance. We learn in scripture that Jesus cried when he learned of the death of his friend Lazarus and I am certain that we all have heard the expression laughter is the best medicine. Over the next hours, days, weeks, months and years share the stories of the good times.
Two thousand years ago the Apostle Peter gave some advice to his friends in Asia Minor. It is still good advice today and I would like to share it with you.
“And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy towards each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.”
As you move forward, you will need each other and I encourage you to follow the advice of Peter and to love one another.
Shortly we will remember and honor _______’s life before we do, I would like to share the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis:
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard;
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say?
About how you spent your dash?
Insert Memory of the Deceased
Read Memorial Card
I now invite you to join me in praying with the words Jesus taught us.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.