8 08 2017


I officiated the Funeral last weekend of a dear childhood friend of mine named Aprile. She had asked me when the time came if I would be there to facilitate her Memorial Service. I promised that I would. We grew up in the same neighborhood up in the northern part of our beloved New Jersey in a town called Cedar Knolls which is part of Morris County. It was a simpler time in a very close knit community where we could stay out all day and never have to worry about being in any danger. Everybody knew each other and there was a camaraderie we all shared that doesn’t exist in the same manner in our world today.

 Aprile is a tough cookie. She battled cancer harder than anyone I have ever known. I would say she kicked it in the can. What should have wiped her out over a year ago couldn’t take her down. She was an inspiration to her family, her friends and any other fellow human being that was blessed enough to have had Aprile shower them with her selfless personality all the months of the year. And while ultimately her body faltered, Aprile’s spirit crossed the finish line in total victory. She’s a warrior and a winner and we are proud card carrying members of her forever Fan Club.

 I hate when people say that “God never gives us more than we can handle.” That phrase is utter nonsense and a bold face lie. So much of life falls into the “It’s way too big for me” category. It’s because this journey through the years is so overwhelming that we are forced to cry out to God for strength, help and hope because we know we are toast when left up to our own devices. Faith in heaven and healthy fellowship with friends on earth are the key ingredients to any one’s survival kit. Aprile excelled in all the areas that mattered most which is why not having her around anymore is such a tragic loss to us left behind. Death can be a real drag, can’t it? Not for the Graduate to Glory but for those of us still stuck in a creation that is caught in a circle of constant chaos.      

 Nobody had to make up nice words to say about how Aprile’s touched their lives. There were no uncomfortable periods of silence or the meaningless sharing of lifeless clichés. Aprile approached everyone and everything with her unsinkable optimism. And she was the type of person who would have you sharing about your own issues before you might catch her complaining about her own. One of her Oncology Nurses in attendance raved on and on about how Aprile’s character, countenance and courage touched her in a way that no other Patient ever had. Why does God take the strong and leave the weak behind? Or maybe it just seems that way. Maybe those like Aprile stand head and shoulders above the rest that when they leave us, the hole is the size of the Grand Canyon.

 I think cancer sucks and death is a dirty rotten deal. As a Minister, I hate funerals. They can be so shallow and in many ways barbaric. The fact that we attempt to pull it all off in a matter of hours is crazy. Life is more precious than any personal possession that this world may offer. How can you sum it all up in one session? The answer is that you can’t and you won’t. Time doesn’t heal anything. It only reveals how fragile everything is this side of eternity. When are we going to wake up and strengthen the treasure that remains forever?   

 God meets us where we are and not where we pretend to be. We need to abandon our tendency to perform and put on a good show. Let’s stop getting so upset about our expectations not being met that we keep our eyes wide open to the daily opportunities that God gives us to meet us right where we are! If we are hesitant about mourning, we prevent Jesus from transforming it into dancing. If we never learn how to lament, our laughter won’t mean as much as it should. I beg Christians to be more honest about communicating their true and honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned. Whether we’re hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed, overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, there is no wrong in keeping it real. It gets messy and we are flustered by the mustard. It’s a moment to get real with God when you’re hurting so bad your insides bleed and all you can do is cry out for His help. It’s a prayer that says, God, I’m hurting—will you meet me here? This is not a language limited for the super spiritual. This is the invitation to us all.



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