Summary: This is a funeral for a woman who grew up in the church but has been away from it for about 25 years. She left 4 children behind.
Eulogy –Rochelle Noel by Rick Gillespie- Mobley
In the year 1961, young people from across the country were beginning to do freedom rides in order to desegregate, the bus terminals throughout the south. Young people were being sent as gifts to make this country more of what it needed to be. That proved to be an enormously dangerous mission.
In Anniston, Alabama, one bus was firebombed, forcing its passengers to flee for their lives. In Birmingham, where an FBI informant reported that Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor had encouraged the Ku Klux Klan to attack an incoming group of freedom riders "until it looked like a bulldog had got a hold of them," the riders were severely beaten.
In eerily quiet Montgomery, a mob charged another bus load of riders, knocking John Lewis unconscious with a crate and smashing Life photographer Don Urbrock in the face with his own camera. A dozen men surrounded Jim Zwerg, a white student from Fisk University, and beat him in the face with a suitcase, knocking out his teeth.
Meanwhile in heaven, God was concentrating on sending a gift down to earth in that same year in the same town of Anaston Alabama where the freedom bus had been firebombed. You see every now and then God decides to add a little something extra special to the family of humanity and wraps it up in a little package that we know as a little girl. This little girl was called Rachelle Noel and arrive on March 30, 1961. She pulled into the gates at Anaston Alabama.
Rachelle entered this world and became , a daughter, a sister, a mother, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a dog lover, a co worker, and a child of God. She has made the journey from the heavens to the earth and back to the heavens once again.
It’s never easy saying goodbye to someone we love and care about. God shares in our suffering and grief in that the Lord knows the loss that we feel. Jesus Himself cried with Mary and Martha in the loss of their brother. But at the same time God gives a special hope in moments like these for God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Jesus also said, “let not your heart be troubled, for you believe in God, then believe also in me.”
Some ask “if God is loving, why is there death.” I see it as, because God is loving there is death. Can you imagine what a burden it would be to have to live life forever in the way we know it here on earth?
What it would be like to forever have pain in our bodies, unforgiveness in our hearts, and bitterness in our soul, or to be stuck at the bottom of poverty forever. God has seen all the evil, and the madness, and the pain that goes on in the world, and God has determined that at some point this must stop. That point is death.
We want to think that all of us are entitled to a certain number of days, weeks, months and years. We all expect to die of old age. This makes Rochelle’s death even more difficult to bear. But there is no such entitlement to a specific number of days found in the Bible. The Bible encourages us in Psalm 90:12 (NIV) Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. None of us are guaranteed a certain amount of years or days to live. It is not the length of our lives that matter most, but rather what we do between those two brief moments of life and death.
The message of the Bible is that death is always close at hand, walking by us like a constant companion.
Some of us are alive today, simply because of God’s grace and God’s mercy. We know we were in some situations, some accidents, some places, and we were doing some things that should have taken us out of this world, but God had other plans for our lives. God is the only reason we are still alive to tell about what almost happened.
Did you know that the Bible teaches that while you were in your mother’s womb, God had something special in mind for you? Did you know that most of us, never get around to discovering just how precious we are in the eyes of God? We’re not precious because we’re so good. We’re precious because of what God knows that He can make of us. For all of us were made in the image of God. But not all of us discover the benefits that come from being made in God’s image.