Pastor Bob Tousey
This Morning we gather to remember ___________. Some of you have had the honor of knowing ________ since birth while others met her along the way. It does not matter when you met __________ because she touched each one of you in a distinct 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 her memories will soon trip a smile from your lips.
I would like to take a moment and offer a prayer of Thanksgiving to God to thank Him for allowing each of you to have the blessing of having _______ in your life.
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 her.
Meet us in our sadness
and fill our hearts with praise and thanksgiving,
for the sake of the One who loves us all. Amen
I am going to share with you what I believe is truly the most comforting and hopeful verses in all of scripture. These are the words that Jesus shared with His friends shortly before His own earthly death. This passage is found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verses 1-6.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
At the beginning of this reading Jesus assures us of peace with the words “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and also trust in me”. He then goes on to remind us that there is more than enough room for each of us in heaven. When it comes time for God to call our name, we do not have to worry about being greeted by a “No Vacancy” sign. Our reservation was made when Jesus died on the cross, all we must do is be willing to accept His wonderful gift. When I think of this promise I am reminded of the old Motel Six commercial where Tom Bodett promises to leave a light on for us. I like to think there is a light at the gates of heaven that awaits us. This analogy has a biblical basis. In Chapter 21 of the Book of Revelation, we learn that “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” I believe _______ was greeted by that light as she entered the gates of heaven.
Now the second promise is amazing to me. Jesus promises to prepare a place for us. Imagine this we have the Son of God, who in his earthly life was a carpenter by trade, promising to prepare a special place just for us. Early in my career I would have tried to paint a picture of what _________’s new heavenly home is like but as I matured, I realized I am limited by earthly words and we all are limited by earthly imagination. We can’t possibly imagine the beauty and majesty of ________’s new home. The Christian band Mercy Me sings a song entitled “I can only Imagine”, the song begins with the lyrics “I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side, surrounded by your glory.” Then the lyrics take the shape of questions. Will I dance in your presence? Will I be in awe? Will I stand? Will I kneel? I will I sing? Will I even be able to speak at all? They take the form of questions because none of us can possibly imagine. But __________ no longer needs to imagine as she is surrounded by the glory of God and walking by His side. But for those of us who are still here there are however three things that we do know, there is no more suffering or pain and no words that mean goodbye. ________ is at peace and he will no longer have to say goodbye. Not ever again.
The final and in my opinion the most comforting promise is that when everything is ready Jesus will come and take us there himself. I have had the honor to be with people during their final hours and it is not unusual for them to say, “it is time”, “I’m ready” or “they are here”. In the book “The Other Side of Suffering” the author writes of the death of his wife. She was in a coma, she opened her eyes and had a wondrous expression on her face as if she was seeing something magnificent. She then closed her eyes and died. I believe she opened her eyes to see our Savior. This story and my experiences are proof to me that Jesus keeps His promise. Because of this I am confident that __________ was not alone when she died, I am confident that she was in arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am also certain that as _________ enter the gates of heaven, she was greeted by a welcoming committee of those who went before her. It was a family reunion of sorts. The good news is that you will all can have _______ on your welcoming committee. Today is not good bye but simply until we meet again.
I would now like to offer a special prayer that will remind us of the importance of the gift God gave us when He sent His Son to us.
Gracious God, in giving us Jesus, you have forever changed our human destiny. Through the birth of Jesus, the Christ, and His preaching and healing, you show us how to live as Your sons and daughters; by His death and resurrection, You breathe new hope within us, reconciling and renewing us. You heal us of our brokenness, so that alone, holy people, we may be a light to the nations, bringing Your peace to the world, preparing us for the return of Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
We are now going to take a few moments to honor and remember ___________’s life, before we do, I would like to share with you a special poem entitled “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.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
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 Memories of the deceased’s life.
Insert Closing Poem.
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 thin is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.