Summary: Funeral for an 80 year old man (I call him George) who died suddenly. The sermon is weaved around the verses of the song "Because He Lives"
Coming out of the 1960’s and into the 1970’s our country was going through some great turmoil with the height of the drug culture and the peak of the Vietnam War. The whole “God is Dead” theory was running wild in our country. It was not the best of times. In those days a couple in Indiana gave birth to their third child – their first boy. His coming brought concern along with celebration. In fact they thought “This is really a poor time to bring a child into the world”. Yet there was an underlying peace in their hearts. Why? Well, they could say with courage “Because Christ lives we can face tomorrow”. And so in 1971 Bill and Gloria Gather were used of the Lord to give to the world that great song “Because He Lives”. It was one of the many songs Carmel liked.
Verse 1 says:
God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
We just weren’t ready for George’s quick and tragic exit from us. When Sylvia called me on Sunday evening about his accident it was such a shock that I got many of the details wrong in my mind and passed on false information. It was such an unexpected turn of events.
I’m not excited about giving George up. Oh how special he and Denise have been to Lucy and I over our 10 ½ years here in China Grove. My mind is filled with sweet memories of him. How is it for you?
• George was always the school teacher. He was already retired by the time we came here but he would constantly be quizzing me about something, seeking to enlarge my understanding. When Lucy and I visited his mountain home on a few occasions he would give me a lesson on Christmas trees, on Denise’s flower garden, or on mountain life in general. He cared about my continual education.
• Goerge was totally against alcohol yet he and Denise collected shot glasses during their travels and even had others bringing him ones he didn’t have. Kids of all ages, including this big-size kid, have been interested in his rock collection.
• Every time a new state or national park quarter came out – and most recently every presidential dollar – he would give us one – often before they were out in circulation.
• When he was finished with his copy of Garden Gate magazine he’d passed his copy on to Lucy. Just recently he informed Lucy that it was her time to renew the magazine and then pass it on to him.
• While we were at our previous house Goerge brought over his tiller for Lucy’s garden. He informed me that I was to use it first – speaking of first, it was the first and last time I have had a tiller in my hands. He just laughed as I tried to control that shaking machine. Again, George, the teacher, was seeking to broaden my experiences.
• Most every Sunday George would ask me if I was ready to preach. When I assured him I was, he would always say, "Have a good run".
• George cared about Lucy and I. He sought to enrich our lives and we will always hold him dear to our hearts.
No, we were not prepared for his exit from this life…but George was prepared to go. Because God sent His Son to die for him and because George had trusted his life to God through Jesus Christ, he was ready whenever the Lord decided to take him home.
The fact of the matter is, this time will come for us too. We may have plenty of time to get ready and then again death may not give us any warning at all like what happened to George when he fell down a flight of stairs. Will you be ready? Have you made sure your relationship is right with the One whose empty grave is there to prove your Savior lives?
Verse 2 states:
How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.
George was proud of his family. Often he would speak of each of you, sometimes asking for specific prayer for situations you were facing. I do remember once him remarking to me in the last year how he was praying hard for Jeff and family because this wasn’t a good time to be raising a child. Now that is 40 years after Bill and Gloria had the same thoughts. Like them George knew that even if times are getting worse we have a God who is alive and can help us face uncertain days.