Monday, January 19, 2009

Funeral meditation

Welcome brothers and sisters, we have come this afternoon to honor and celebrate the life of Anna Rhea Lynn.

Our God is an awesome God! He took a man from Illinois, and a woman from the hills of East Tennessee, and had them meet - in California - on a blind date - at a high school football game - in the rain! Now you think God wasn’t in that! :-)

The family shared with me of what a strong and adventurous woman she was. She loved cooking and gardening, even belonging to gardening clubs in Calif. and traveling all over judging competitions.

She was a woman dedicated to caring for her family - doing whatever it took.

She was like those familiar words form the book of Proverbs.

(Read Proverbs 31:10-12, 25-30 NLT)

May your hearts be comforted as we share together today…

(Word of Grace and opening prayer - Rev. Bill Cahill)


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

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 several 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.

There is an old song that asks the question, “Does Jesus Care?”

(Read verses 1, 4 Cokesbury Hymnal #180)

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.

(Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)

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. We want to celebrate and honor the life of Anna Rhea, but we also, as a Church, want to comfort and love you.

But, I believe there is another reason that Jesus cried. I believe He cried because He had to bring Lazarus back from heaven.

Can you imagine? Heaven! Paradise! The word for paradise is paradisos - it means “the King’s private garden.” Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise!” Today, you’ll walk in My Father’s garden.

He told the disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

When Bill told me about Anna Rhea doing all that traveling with the garden clubs and the competitions, I thought, “Yeah, that’s where she’s at - she’s “inspecting the gardens!” Her feet aren’t hurting, and her knees are well, and she’s enjoying the garden.

While we’re here on this dying earth, we can rejoice for Anna Rhea who is in the presence of Christ.

Of course you’ll miss her! Of course it’s going to hurt. And you’ll find yourself caught off guard sometimes at the most unlikely thing - a certain flower, a certain sound, a rainy football game, but remember, as we read, the Apostle Paul tells us that we don’t grieve like those who have no hope.

Our parting is not the end - it’s only an interruption. We’ve not “lost” Anna Rhea - we know exactly where she is. She is experiencing Christ’s presence in a place so joyful and wonderful that it is called “Paradise!”

And one day, we’re told, we will be with the Lord forever! “Comfort one another with these words!”
I want to close by reading the words to another old familiar song.

(Read all 4 verses, then chorus of “The Unclouded Day” Cokesbury Hymnal #207)

Closing prayer - Rev. Bill Cahill

Dismiss to Cemetery

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