Sunday, January 29, 2006

For our best friend's Mother

I was asked to speak at a memorial for our best friend's mother. This is the message...


I want to share with you from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Therefore comfort one another with these words.

This is how we are to comfort one another - we are to remind one another of the hope that we have in Christ, Who was the first raised from the dead. Paul is saying that we don’t grieve as those who have no hope, but one thing he is not saying, is that it won’t hurt, because it will, and it does. Christ certainly expects us to shed tears and feel loneliness as we go though these valleys. But in the midst of our sorrow, there must be the testimony of the living hope we have in Christ

Jesus Himself said to Martha when Lazarus died, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” And then He said to her, “Do you believe this?"

And we have to answer that as well. Do we believe it or not?

But, do you remember what happens next? He weeps. Jesus cries at the tomb of Lazarus; He who knew that He was, Himself, “the resurrection and the life”, cried at His best friend’s tomb. I believe there are at least 2 reasons He cried. First He cried because it was necessary for His friend to die. He had to allow Lazarus to die, and that pained Him greatly.

And second, He cried because those He loved so dearly were hurting. Many times, when it’s just us, we deal with grief pretty well. But when someone we love is grieving, it causes us to cry with and for them. Yes, we have hope, but it is going to hurt.

These memorials and funerals are hard, but we are not meant to carry this alone. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul tells us that God offers comfort to all.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Isn’t that encouraging? That we will be able to give one another the same comfort that God has given us! And that is why we are here today.

In 1994, as chair of the PPR committee, I met Johnny to give him the keys to the parsonage. When I saw him pull in, in that Chevrolet pick-up truck with a guitar case and pc in the back, I knew the three of us were sure to become friends. Never would I have imagined, though, how deep that friendship would be, or that we would become best friends. Nor, would I have imagined how inextricably linked our lives would be with funerals.

I should have had an inkling, though - I did, after all meet him there at the parsonage after leaving a funeral here at Huckleberry Springs.

Johnny has done, I think, 6 funerals for my personal family; 3 aunts, an uncle, and both my parents. And now, I am extremely humbled to be able to do this for your family…

There are many reasons Johnny and I are friends, but not the least of which, were our Mothers. We are, what we are, because of our Mothers; because of their love, their direction (also known as discipline) and their support.

Tom Brokaw wrote of our mothers’ generation as “The Greatest Generation.” He writes mostly, of course, about how WWII affected them, and they in turn affected the world, but here at home, other things were going on…

Our Mothers were made of early 1900’s, East Tennessee stock - those “By the Grace of God, I’ll raise my kids, by myself if I have to, and do whatever it takes” kind of women. They were fiercely independent women who raised us to be honest, and true, and dependable, and to serve our God. And we are so thankful for them.

When I met Miz Goins, like most folks, I immediately fell in love with her. First of all, because her name was Beulah, and my Grandmother’s name was Beulah - and because she looked so much like my Mamaw, but beyond that, I just felt that love…

She and my Mother hit it off, right off the bat. Until Mother got so hard of hearing, they’d talk on the phone every time she came down to visit. And usually, she would make Johnny take her to see Mother and Daddy. She knew most all my aunts, but for some reason, she and Mother just became close - I guess it was because it was they had so much in common.

As I’ve been cleaning out at Mother and Daddy’s, I’ve found card after card that Miz. Goins sent them. And after Mother died, she continued to send them to Daddy. And what a comfort they were.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he says to him, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”

And I say to you today, hold fast to the faith that dwelt in your Mother and Grandmother. She was an example of a strong Christian woman.

She, like my Mother, didn’t need laws passed or legislation made to give her, her identity as a woman. She was a child of God, and she was the woman God made her to be. And we honor them by being the men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and children of God, that God Himself made us to be.

We are gathered today to honor the memory of a dear woman who meant a lot, to a lot of us, but we’re also here to… minister, if you will, to your family. For as many of us have sat in your pews, in terms of sorrow and been ministered to and comforted by Johnny, or Jimmy, or other pastors, so we, as Paul said, are to comfort one another.

And this is what the Church should do. But because we too, loved your Mother and Grandmother, this is what we want to do as well.

Father, we have been so blessed by this wonderful woman, and the many wonderful women You have placed in our lives. May You grant us the grace to live lives that honor their memory, as we serve You.

In Jesus’ Name - Amen


Anonymous Jan Noall said...

This is beautiful!

My mom has been gone 3 years last Saturday. (She was 95, still lived alone, although I did most of the work, food and large yard.)

But, she was one of those women too, and I feel very comforted by your ministering words, and you have lifted my heart. Thank you so much.

9:06 PM  

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