Summary: A graveside memorial for a young man.
A Memorial for Karl Widell
Today, we have two tasks before us, one difficult and one extremely easy. The difficult task is to return Karl’s remains to the earth from which he ultimately came. The second, which is easier and comforting, is to celebrate his life.
Heavenly Father, you who gave us life and then receives us again in death, we thank you for always being there for us and for the grace you give us through Your son, Jesus Christ. In our weakness, we look to You for strength and in our sorrow for comfort. Help us now to put our faith and trust in You, that we might experience anew Your grace leading to eternal hope, through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Right now, it is difficult for us to see beyond our grief, to reconcile the great loss we feel with Karl’s passing. Yet we can find solace in the words and deeds of Jesus.
2. Christ the Comforter
The apostle John tells us of Jesus’ reaction when hearing that a dear friend of His, Lazarus, had died. We have learned it as the shortest verse in the Bible, two simple words—“Jesus wept.” Yet, if the Son of God could weep over the passing of a mortal man, then surely so can we. Jesus’ actions after this are more important, though, for Jesus overrode death and called Lazarus from the grave.
In another example, we can take comfort and gain assurance—Jesus restored the life of a young girl, the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue. The apostle Mark tells us He prefaced these actions with the statement, “…The child is not dead but asleep.”
3. The Assurances
These mortal remains we grieve today are not Karl; they are but a shell of who and what he was. The true Karl, his essence, his spirit, is in the presence of God.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul helps to remove the finality of death with the promise that when we draw our last breath, we pass into the presence of God.
Scripture Reading — 2 Corinthians 5:6–8 (NIV)
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
The Bible tells us we are made in the image of God; that we are, in essence, a reflection of Him. David tells us in Psalms 19 that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
If we are made in His image, and the world declares His glory, then we should be able to see Karl in everything around us.
A poem largely attributed to Mary Elizabeth Frye, was written to friend, to provide her condolences in the passing of her friend’s mother. It mirrors David’s words in Psalm 19.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I did not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
Don’t look for Karl here at this gravesite, because you won’t find him. Look for him in the gently falling snow, in the brilliant bloom of spring’s flowers, in the bright stars at night, in the gentle sounds of waves lapping on the beach.
Dear Father, Lord of life and death, we acknowledge the reality of death. Although it separates us from our loved ones, make us aware that it is only for a brief time. Although it brings grief, may we look to your spirit to bring comfort and peace to these who mourn. Although it brings disappointment, give us faith to look to the future with hope and confidence and courage. Now, dear Heavenly Father, abide with these our friends, our family, our loved ones, throughout the coming days, and bring us all together again around your throne in eternal glory. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ our living Lord. Amen.