Summary: This sermon is a compulation from many different sources. Please don’t quote my name! Instead, use it to bring comfort where able.

Memorial Service of John E. Doe

Pastor Greg Buchner, Officiating

Time of Visitation/Gathering

Prelude – “Old Rugged Cross”


Good morning…

We all have burdens.

Some of us overcome them and some of us are overcome by them.

We all know that life is full of questions.

Some of us find answers and some of us have questions that forever go unanswered.

We all have felt the sting of death.

Some die because of a diseased heart, others die from a cancer-ridden lung, and still others die from a diseased brain.

In God’s wise divine intervention, none of us can see very far ahead. The future is always unknown, and no one could have foreseen the kind of summons that brings us to this moment,

on this day.

Each one of us in our own way since Sunday morning have been asking ourselves, what could we have done? What should we have done? Could we have done anything differently? Personally, I wish that I could have given John better counsel. I wish that I could have given him the hope he needed to get through this lowest of lows. I wish that I could have been there to stop him, but I wasn’t.

And, in reality, the only way that any of us could have stopped our friend and loved one from giving up his life, would have been to be there at that very moment to stop him. But not only then, but to be with him every waking moment of every single day.

It wasn’t our fault. It wasn’t John’s fault…it was no one’s fault.

Friends and family, we have gathered here in grief, acknowledging our human loss. We have

gathered in our pain, hoping to find some sense of comfort. We have gathered in sorrow,

struggling to find some sense of hope.

I have not known John as long as or nearly as well as the most of you, but I’ve known him well enough to know he was a man who had faith. And even in the midst of his most darkness moments with bi-polar and manic depression, he often looked for God, experienced his relationship with God, and tried to learn what God was trying to teach him.

John is no longer with us, but in my conversations and letters I’ve shared with him in the past, I can tell you that John and God were trying to figure out their relationship together. That tells me that they had a relationship in the first place.

And I believe that the gracious God that I know and love and respect and honor, is telling John it’s okay. And I believe that the same gracious God, full of mercy and grace, is telling us today, that it’s okay.

John’s not suffering. He’s thinking more clearly than he has ever thought before. Probably trying to talk God into computerizing his prayer request system, or just relaxing with grandma and grandpa as they till the ground, cut the grass, or tend to the animals on heaven’s farmland.

Today, while the death of a loved one is always a tragedy, and is it doubly so when that loved one has taken his own life, we can agree with the Hebrew writer, “Let us then with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in (this) time of need (Hebrews 4:16).”

Let us with confidence know, that God’s grace is all-sufficient and nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love that God alone offers through His Son, Jesus Christ.

In fact, it was Jesus, himself, who said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).” May that be so as we gather today. Will you join me in prayer?

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, You have given us our brother John, to

know and to love in our pilgrimage on earth.

Uphold us now, as we entrust him to your boundless love and eternal care. Assure us that not even

death can separate us from your infinite mercy.

Fill our hearts with trust in you, that by night and by day, at all times and in all seasons, we may

without fear commit those who are dear to us to your never-failing love, for this life and the life to come.

O God, you are always more ready to hear then we are to pray. You know our needs before we ask. To you our hearts are open, and from you no secrets are hidden. So, give to us your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, this is our prayer…Amen.

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Dale Carter Sr.

commented on Feb 14, 2019

Your sermon though well thought out raises somewhat a fear in my mind. My fear is not for myself but of those that are looking for relief. I fear that letting people believe that if they take their own life they will be in a better place only encourages suicide. Perhaps if they were to believe that they would end up in a far worse condition and place, maybe they would look or seek a different solution and save a life and save the ones left behind the agonies of the lose of a loved one. I would never encourage anyone to take their own life for any reason. To encourage or to discourage is not a simple decision to make, but I'd rather scare someone out of hell than let someone think they won't go there if they take their own life. No one will ever come back and tell us which is right, all else is merely speculation. With deepest of Love and compassion that I can mustard from this infinite mind. (St. John 10:10) .......Have Life and have it more abundantly. (Ezekiel 3:17-21) Warn the unrighteous as well as the righteous.

Greg Buchner

commented on Feb 14, 2019

A couple thoughts...1) Dale - that's always the question at any funeral, which is why I offer this as one way not just the only way. Please use it or not use it as you please. 2) Your point ,"To encourage or to discourage is not a simple decision to make, but I'd rather scare someone out of hell than let someone think they won't go there if they take their own life." My attempt was not to condone sin, but to give the family an opportunity to understand why their loved one did what they did. Since we're not called to judge whom makes it to heaven and who doesn't, I trust in a God who loves first, shows grace that's unmerited always, and wants to comfort the family bringing them peace in the most un-peace-filled moments of their life just as Jesus promised. 3) And last, I would hope that we as pastors show grace to one another as well. As I noted in #1, and in the description of the message, I would never tell another pastor that their message was inappropriate, especially when they weren't there with the family that day. Instead, I'd rather pass along what I did in hope that it helps others as we love God and love others over all. Blessings on your ministry.

Dale Carter Sr.

commented on Mar 2, 2019

My comments concern, before not after. I'd certainly give the family all the comfort I could after the fact. I think you took my comments the wrong way. It's hard to know what spirit the person is being lead that is doing the writing and that's true for the person that is reading. But nonetheless I enjoy reading your sermons. I'm in Lonoke Arkansas at Harvest Fellowship PCG. If you're ever close by, come see me, I'll buy you a catfish dinner. God bless your ministry also. P.S. Before every service we sing an old song I learned as a child, "Let us all pull together" then another one, "Bind us together" then we repeat this prayer. "Father, thank you that you have created me to soar and do great things. You're given me talent, ability, and skills. I believe that as I prepare to take responsibility with my growth, You will honor my efforts and take me further than I can ever imagine." My love in Christ Jesus.

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