Summary: Eulogy for an elderly Christian woman
Doris Rita Braun
When I serving on staff at a church in Tulsa, I had a mentor in ministry who told story of one of his first funerals. Mac was a pastor in Muskogee, OK, just a year out of seminary and one of the women of the church had died. It had been raining for days and the funeral home had actually told him they didn’t know if they were going to be able to dig the grave and have the internment. But there had been a break in the clouds the day before and they were able to dig the grave. They held the service in the funeral home chapel and then made their way in the rain for the graveside portion of the service. It started to pour and all the family and friends huddled under the tent. The ground was soaked and Mac was standing in puddles. Mac started the graveside service and just as he was saying, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, he felt the ground begin to move. And before he could step back, the side of the grave caved in, taking Mac with him until he found himself with one foot in the grave and one out. And then he said, “I have come to understand that’s how it is with us, we have one foot in life and the other in death.” It is \today that we now find ourselves still in the midst of life but also standing in the midst of death. And it is the midst of death that we as Christians come together seeking the strength of God. In this time of loss, we seek the comfort of Jesus Christ. In this time of pain we grasp for the loving arms of God.
James Doyle tells the story of growing up and as a 5 year old he would pretend to fall asleep during the evening worship service! If I did, I knew my dad would carry me home. I would do this because we walked to and from church. It was about 1 mile each way. Being little wasn’t my problem. The length wasn’t my problem. I enjoyed the walk with my family. However, my older brothers teased me by telling me that at night in one of the fields we’d walk through there was a "boogey man" who would "get me". Now that frightened me! One night I really did fall asleep. Dad picked me up. I woke up right away but continued to pretend to be asleep as he carried me. That night we went right through that frightening field and I was not one bit afraid. I felt the warmth, the strength and the protection of my dad’s arms. To this day, some 50 plus years later, I can still "feel" his arms and "hear" his breathing as I remember his ultimate protection. So, it wasn’t long until I would constantly pretend to fall asleep on the pew knowing I could go through that frightening experience safe in my dad’s arms! And then he writes, “Today, when I talk about death and dying I realize that it, too, can be a frightening experience. But one thing I know for sure, I am always safe in God’s Arms. He made me a promise that when my room was ready, He would come for me and take me there. Even the frightening experience of death’s field is no match for our Father’s secure and strong Arms!” Today God holds us close in his loving arms as we experience both the mystery and fear of death.
That’s why we turn to the cross. As we look at the cross, we are reminded that death has been defeated and today among all days we cling to the hope of the cross. And just as God was with Jesus in the midst his scourging and his last hours of life on the cross, we know his loving arms embrace and comfort us as we face this difficult time. For He knows what it is to lose someone close to him, whom he so loves. He knows what it is to lose a part of himself to the hands of death.
Today, we have come to remember the blessings, memories and lessons of Doris which we will carry with us. We come to give thanks for her life and the blessings she gave to us, for she was an example for us all: a true embodiment of a life focused on giving to others and a life focused on God. In many respects we also come to give thanks to God for the precious years which were given to us by God after Doris had her massive heart attack nine years ago. By all medical accounts, she was living on borrowed time. But as Christians we do not believe in borrowed time. We believe in life as a gift and all the days of our lives as gifts from God. There was still work for Doris to do and God was not quite done with her yet. And we received the lagniappe of that as we got to spend more time with her and receive more blessings from her.