Summary: This is a funeral that for an adult male with Down Syndrome. This message recognizes the value of all human life and it seeks to honor the parents who had invested their lives in three children, two of which were special needs. Names have been changed.
All Life is Precious - A memorial service for an adult male with Down Syndrome
On behalf of the Smith family, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for being here to remember the life of Larry Smith.
Psalm 121:1-8 (NIV)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
We are here this afternoon to celebrate.
• We celebrate life.
• We celebrate love.
• We celebrate grace.
And we celebrate the fact that this body and mind that were once so restricted have been set free.
Paul mentions the idea that once the spirit departs the body, it can then return to the God who made it.
In the presence of God, I believe Larry is able to operate at a capacity unlike anything he has ever experienced here on this earth.
No more downs, no more pneumonia, no more mental, physical or emotional limitation. In God’s presence, what was true on this earth is no longer true.
Larry Smith is a new man. I want to talk to you about that today.
This memorial service is an opportunity for us to be reminded once again of the value of human life. We acknowledge the eternal nature of life.
And we give thanks to God for the blessing of life and the opportunity to know Larry as we did.
Life is a priceless and precious gift from God.
We recognize the value of life because we are created in the image of God.
One of the reasons we believe life is so precious, is because of its eternal nature.
The Bible tells us that life exists before we enter the material world.
Psalms 139:13-16 (NIV)
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
In beautiful language, David talks about life. He mentions three things, that are true or every person who was ever born.
1. God created me. That's true of David, Larry, you, me, everybody.
2. God saw me. "Your eyes saw my unformed body."
3. God planned my days.
At first glance it is probably hard to reconcile the image from Psalm 139, "that God knits us together in our mother’s womb" and the reality that some babies are born with any type of disability.
In a perfect world that wouldn’t happen. But it does happen. That’s because we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a fallen world that is far from perfect. But that does not change the fact that life is so very precious.
God invites us to view life as He views it: precious, bears the mark of His image, and it is eternal in nature.
That’s how the Smiths have viewed life.
As you know, Larry was born with Down’s Syndrome back in 1955. A lot has changed in the past 58 years.
When Larry was born there were no standard prenatal tests to determine a diagnosis of Down Syndrome before the child was born. In most cases, the realization that a child had Down Syndrome wouldn’t come until the time of their birth, like it did for Larry.
Larry's mother shared with me this week about the nurse making the announcement that her son had Down Syndrome. But that announcement changed nothing about the love of a mother for her son.
In preparing for this service, I ran across an article that ran in Christianity Today this past year. The title was “Children with Down Syndrome: Will Culture Make Them Disappear?”
In that article, writer Kelly Rosati stated that even though there have been “huge advances in improving quality of life—life expectancy has doubled from 25 to 55 years in the last 30 years due to medication, therapies, and specialized surgery—the population of those with Down Syndrome is barreling toward extinction.”
She went on to explain how a simple blood test can tell a woman whether or not her baby has one extra chromosome, thus differentiating a "perfect" child from a child with a life-altering disability.
The message from the article was the Down Syndrome would no longer be an issue, not because of medical progress or understanding, but because of the ability to diagnosis disability and eliminate it within the womb showing an absolute disregard for the value of all human life.