My 1st Funeral Service Sermon

{The woman whose funerary service I wrote this for was my wife’s aunt – someone I was proud and blessed to call family. She was someone I could hug, and I miss her today. Playing this special role for her family meant a lot to me, and I had never done such a thing before, and truly inspired me to pursue such ministry more actively.}

It is ironic that I should be chosen to do readings and blessings at my Aunt Butch’s funeral service, on the charge that I am religious.

The death of a loved one can give us a moment of clarity, and being religious is clearly not a cause for pride when weighed against the value of a life truly well lived.

My Aunt Butch reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the two sons, where one son said he would not help work in the vineyard but did, and one said he would but didn’t.

Us religious types spend our lives racking up community service hours, certificates of appreciation, and deep down inside say “yes, I’ll work in the vineyard” because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Worst of all, we do these things often at the expense of time we could have spent with those God has placed in our care and company – our spouse, our children, our brothers and sisters – all of our family, friends, and neighbors. Sunday obligation has replaced family obligation.

But God does not judge as Man would judge. Here on earth, the person with the most medals when he dies wins, or so we think. We do not erect monuments to the people who have really done the work in the vineyard. We can only give back that unconditional Love, that one commandment given to all of us alike, by returning the favor with other unsung acts of human kindness. Such a person inspires great works that will NOT be recorded in history. It can be as great as the use of one’s caregiving profession lovingly at home for years at a time, or taking on a seemingly endless litany of painting projects, or as simple as putting in a phone jack to bring a mother a few feet closer to her neighbors, and her son.

But there won’t be any awards for these things. No honorary degrees or front-page news stories. The unknowing centerpiece life that inspired it all has been recorded as a few column inches in last week’s paper, and a solitary, small monument of stone placed among countless others in a field we visit today.

This is a temporary sadness, for we keep far more in our hearts and lives forever than what we leave behind today. A more worrisome sadness would be for our poor souls if we can’t see as God sees. With all our righteousness, we cannot enter our Father’s home, without being able to accept that maybe there IS BINGO in heaven, and maybe there aren’t “No Smoking” signs. One thing we must be sure of in our hearts is that among the communion of Saints in heaven, there’s one voice perhaps a little louder than the rest, and she’ll be there for us in ways we cannot be sure to see or understand, and is waiting for us to be reunited once again, face-to-face.

Ken posted at 2004-8-25 Category: Prayers & Pulpit
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