Summary: This the funeral service for my wife’s mother. She died knowing the Lord.
Sermantha Mary Dubose Gillespie
Death first appeared in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. It was a frightening concept to them and has been for most of humankind ever since. But even before Jesus Christ conquered death by rising from the dead, God saw death in a different light. From God’s perspective, death could be rendered completely powerless depending on who was doing the dying. The word of God says in Psalms 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." This means that on August 1st, 1995 Sermantha Dubose Gillespie, brought joy in a special way to the heart of God.
What was it about her that moved the heart of God? What was it about her, that moved our hearts to tears, when we discovered that she was now waiting for our arrival in heaven? What was it about her that caused us to celebrate this afternoon? She was more than a daughter, more than a wife, more than a mother, more than a sister, more than a relative, more than a good friend, and more than a strong Black woman. Brothers and sisters I submit to you this day, that Sermantha Mary Dubose Gillespie was a servant and a child of the Most High God.
The actual date of Sermantha’s death is probably not written down in a record book that we can easily get our hands on, you see the date on the obituary refers to the date her body cease to function. The real Sermantha, the part that lives forever, died a long time ago, when she heard of the call of Jesus Christ as a young girl upon her life.
Jesus said, , "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a person if he or she gains the whole world, yet forfeits his or her soul? Or what can a person give in exchange for his or her soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he or she has done.
Sermantha picked up her cross to follow Jesus Christ, thereby making her death on Tuesday just a means of passing from one form of service to God to another. How does a person go about denying himself or herself to follow Jesus? It begins with the realization that there is more to life than what we can see around us. It continues with the understanding that everyday, all of us are making choices for our lives that affect us and others. Not only are choices being made, the word of God tells us that a record is being kept of every decision that we make, and that one day we will give an account to God for those decisions.
There use to be a beer commercial ad that said, "you only live once, give it all the gusto you can in life." That slogan actually comes from the Old Testament in the bible. Only the beer commercial stopped halfway with the verse. The verse goes on to say, give it all you got, but realize that God is going to hold you accountable for the way you live it. If you were to die today, would you be ready to give God an account for the decisions you have made, and would you know with a certainty that you would spend eternity in heaven with God? If the answer is not yes, then perhaps your life is being lived in vain.
The good news about Sermantha, is that her living has not been in vain. God gives each of us an assignment to work with in this world. We cannot let the outward circumstances of our lives hinder us in fulfilling the task that is before us. Right underneath her commitment to Christ, that were two other driving passions in Mother’s life, both shaped by her observation of what went on in life.
When Christ tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him, it often takes us some strange ways in life. One of her passions was to combat racism. Mother spoke of how the girls she had grown up with in high school got the same grades as she did, and some even worse. But then came high school graduation and a division occurred. Some of those friends got called to those good paying jobs at Ohio Bell, but she like many others were offered the second class tier jobs with little hope of advancements. It wasn’t the school she went to, because the other girls had gone to the same school, nor was it the grades she had received, for her grades were better than many. The only noticeable factor was that she was black and her friends were white.