Summary: Funeral message for Reta O’Neill, a 98 year old saint in the Church.


1. I want to express to Reta’s family our deepest sympathy in the

loss of your beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

2. But we are also here to join with you in celebration of her

homecoming! For I believe there is a joyous reunion taking place

between Reta and many friends, relatives, and especially a man

named Glenn. Let alone the warm greeting she is receiving from

her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If heaven is rejoicing, how can

we not also celebrate and rejoice?

3. About a year ago, while Reta was here visiting, she dropped an

autographed copy of her autobiography to keep in our records for

our church history. I think we should make it one of this years

Missionary books. It didn’t take long, as I read some of the parts

of the book, to discover a common theme, which was really what I

was looking for. I’ve entitled the theme “A Celebration of

Holiness”, which is the title of my message.

Trans...I believe the Lord led me to the 61st Psalm. (Read) It is

a picture of the life of holiness. Celebrating holiness is, first

and foremost, a life of communion.

I. A Celebration of Holiness

A. Celebrating holiness is communion.

1. I’m not talking about communion as a ritual that we practice,

but rather communion as a daily lifestyle. Prayer is a the channel of

faith that brings about the celebration of holiness.

2. The Psalmist cries: “Hear my cry ... listen to my prayer ... From

the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint....”

(Vs 1-2)

3. Reta’ first night alone after Glenn’ death. She wrote: “What

has made the difference is a closer, more personal walk with my

heavenly Father who has given me many promises of His constant

presence.” Oh, how slow I have been in recognizing that God truly

is my constant companion. ‘Thank you, Jesus, for giving me time

to become better acquainted with You.’”

Trans...Another picture of celebrating holiness is obedience.

(Vs 2).

B. Celebrating holiness is obedience

1. Vs 2 ... “lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You

have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

2. Illus... Glenn & Reta’s courting years. They both came to the

conclusion that their marriage may not be God’s will. Maybe they

were not made for each other. She wrote: “I said goodbye to

Glenn with a breaking heart. I also felt a calmness, having obeyed

what my inner self was saying must be done. It was seven months

before we met again. Glenn was gone but him I did not forget.

Thirty-nine years later - we were parted again but Glenn I have

never forgotten.”

3. Illus...The premature birth of Jeremy & Jeffery. They thought

the baby might be lost. Reta prayed: “Dear God, if you can’t save

the baby, please spare JoAnne for David and Rochelle’s sake. But

let Your will be done!” (p-138)

4. This is celebrating holiness in the difficult places of life.

Trans... Celebrating holiness also means commitment to His


C. Celebrating holiness means commitment

1. Vs 4 - “I long to dwell in Your tents forever and take refuge in

the shelter of Your wings.”

2. Illus...Obituary: She was a member of the Pleasant View

Church of the Nazarene until it became the Kenmare Church of the

Nazarene. Reta: “I held every office in the church except organist

and pastor.”

3. At the age of five, she wrote of the Nazarene Church coming to

Velva. “My parents were hungry for spiritual food. Soon Papa and

mama experienced a new life in Christ. Mama once said, ‘I’ve

always done my best to live a Christian life but I don’t believe I was

ever really born again.’ They were so happy in their new found

experience.” This was 1910.

4. We live in an age of fast foods and quick fixes. We come to

church or join a religion looking for a quick fix and when it doesn’t

happen we think there is nothing to this. But the kind of religion

that Reta and her parents had relationship with Jesus Christ that

brought with it a holy lifestyle. For Reta, the earthly part has

stretched almost a century of time. It wasn’t a quick fix but an

eternal fix! She found the River of Life that quenches and satisfies.

5. With that kind of commitment you can say: “Surely goodness

and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in

the house of the Lord forever.”

Trans...Celebrating holiness involves our heritage from the


D. Celebrating holiness involves our heritage.

1. Vss 5-7 ‘...You have given me the heritage of those who fear

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