9 12 2012


There is never a good time to have to say farewell to a loved one but having to do it at Christmas makes it all the more painful.  This past week I had the honor to officiate the Memorial Services of two precious women who graduated to Glory this December! One dear saint was named Wilma and the other precious angel was named Roberta.  Both of these dear ladies lived long and fulfilling lives into their very late 80’s.  Both of them had the love and respect and admiration of their families and friends at the close of their journey! They had completed their personal races of life well and crossed the finished line to a mixture of lots of tears for their leaving and yet a host of hopeful cheers for their arriving safely at heaven’s shore!  As a matter of fact, many of Wilma’s 83 great grandchildren were in attendance to bid adieu to the woman who had become their family’s rock and support system. And the cherished picture of Roberta that many shared was that she would finally get to be reunited with her hubby Jake!  

You don’t have 27 grandchildren and 83 great grandchildren without making an awesome impact!  Wilma and Roberta were both individuals who were not just spectators of life- but actually got in the game and played it at the level that they left it all on the field when the final gun had sounded! That is not always the case.  There are times when one has to stretch for something nice to say at a funeral!  They have to do a little digging to come up with a noteworthy accomplishment! 

Years ago Nancy Jones was the oldest resident of a mid-western community. When she died the editor of the local newspaper wanted to commemorate her death. But the more he inquired about Miss Jones the more he discovered that while she had never done anything terribly wrong neither had she made a striking impression. She had maintained a reclusive unmarried lifestyle. She never took vacations, was a spendthrift, and held fast to her small, one bedroom apartment. Since writing an article was difficult, the editor shifted the assignment to the first writer he came across, which happened to be the sports reporter. The sports reporter took the editor’s information and wrote the following: “Here lie the bones of Nancy Jones. Her life held no terrors. She lived without risk; she died without risk. No hits, no runs, no errors.”

I’m afraid to say that this is the way many of us live our lives.  We may not do anything wrong- but we aren’t doing all that is right either!  There are times that you must risk failing if you are ever going to succeed!  You must be willing to love, even if it means having your heart broken! You must be ready to give if you are truly going to understand what it means to live! An automobile wasn’t made for the garage and God doesn’t steer parked cars! We have got to get up and go away or coming home will never hold the worth that it should!

Christians are taught that this world is not our permanent home.  We weren’t made for this place!  We should have a pass through mentality when it comes to how we approach our days!  But that doesn’t mean that we just grab the nearest rock and sit like a statue until the day of our departing arrives.  We can live like we have nothing to lose because of everything Jesus gained for us when he redeemed our souls from the dumpster! Because of our Lord taking the full brunt of death head on when he himself died on the cross to pay for our sins- we only have to deal with the shadow!  Jesus kicked the grave in the teeth with his resurrection and removed the lasting sting out of dying for good!  We know that our last breath here only earmarks our first breath in paradise! And eternity holds more for us than this world ever could because sin has always messed up the program!  When we cross over there will be no more cancer and gossip and back biting and divorce and disease and abuse and disappointment! Death was never in our original makeup. This is why we don’t really know what to do with it!  But there will be day that if you believe- all that being deceased will mean is that we will cease operating from earth and move on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky!

I remember some 30 years ago before I did my first funeral- I thought I would look in the Scriptures for some wisdom in what our Lord did in these cases!  But Jesus didn’t do funerals!  Jesus only knew how to ruin a good ceremony! He brought the daughter of Jairus back from the dead and resurrected Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus to name a few.  I believe Jesus didn’t like doing this because it wasn’t the best thing for those who were in glory!  Can you imagine one minute you are whole once again with no pain and totally free and with the Lord and those you love and then all of a sudden you are thrust back into this chaos here on earth?  How can that be good?  I have told my family and friends that if I have died and already gone to heaven and you bring me back- I will hurt them!  They have been to Canaan and they don’t want to come back again! Jesus doesn’t do funerals because Jesus is the Life and death is a bad word when it comes to our God’s vocabulary!

Let me close with words of hope from the lyrics of Stephen Curtis Chapman. He wrote this song about a loved one finally getting to go home for Christmas- but that refuge was to not be found anywhere hear on earth!  She went home to a place where they don’t have to worry about saying “Merry Christmas,” or having to lose the holiness because of the commercialism.  She went into the presence of God!  “I’m going home for Christmas and nothing’s gonna keep me away. She’ll be face to face with Jesus as we celebrate His birth and this gift will be worth more to her than anything on earth- ‘Cause she’ll be home.  And as we sing ‘Joy to the World’ I can’t help thinking of the joy that’s in her eyes right now. And though our hearts still ache, we know that as we celebrate- she’s singing with the herald angels and heaven’s glowing on her face!” 

Welcome home Wilma and Roberta!  Save a spot for me!  See you someday soon!




One response

9 12 2012
Dorothy Hewitt

Thank you Pastor Rudy! My mother was killed by a car 8 years ago this Christmas Eve and it does make Christmas more difficult but still remains joyful because Jesus came to save us so we all might be with him one day! On Christmas morning after we came home from church sitting on the step at home was a plague from a friend that started with “I am spending my first Christmas in Heaven” there was much more to it but filled my heart with such joy! What a wonderful reminder it was to us! Your words gave me a “good ” cry! May God be with the families of these two loving women during this Christmas Season and all those to follow! I do rememberr my Pastor at the time telling me “Our last breath on earth is our first in Heaven” and it makes me happy to know that my mother is
now with my father who had passed three months prior and that they are together with our Heavenly Father! Thank you again!

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