Summary: A funeral sermon.
October 10, 2006
Just about every funeral service begins with these words that I am about to
speak. They have become familiar, but in their familiarity, have not lost
their power. They have retained their meaning and their power because we
have learned that we can trust God. We have learned that we can trust the
witness of Jesus. And we have learned that, the Bible, as a testament to
God’s working in human life, is likewise trustworthy and true. So these
words, which have been spoken so many times before, stand before us as our
credo – our statement of belief and the faith on which we stand in the most
difficult times of life. Remember these words.
”Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me,
even though they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in
me shall never die. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the
first and the last. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore…Because I
live, you shall live also.’”
Let us pray. O Lord, we realize that you are always more ready to hear us
than we are to pray. We also know that you already know what we need
before we ask. You know that our feeble prayers are sometimes uttered in
ignorance. Yet today, we pray for your grace. We stand here today,
shrinking before the mystery of death. As we stand in the darkness, help us
to see the light of eternity. Continue to speak to us your message of life and
of death. May we, as we remember Phyllis, learn the lessons of those who
are prepared to die. And whether we live or die, give us the strength and the
courage to remain in your grace. Amen.
Friends, we have gathered here today in this place to praise God as we
witness and remember the life of Phyllis Barbour. She is now gone from our
daily life, but will never be removed from our thoughts and memories.
Through the wisdom known only to God, we were allowed to know her in
our midst for eighty-one years. We acknowledge this day that she has
returned to God who first gave her birth. She has run the race here on earth,
finished her course, and has been received back into the loving arms of her
We praise God today because we are assured that he has all of this under
control. He holds us all in his hands. He holds the keys to life and death.
He is the one in whom we place our faith.
So, as we come together today in our grief, acknowledging our human loss,
we pray that God might grant us grace, so that in our pain we might find
comfort. May God grant us grace that we might find hope in our sorrow.
May God travel life with us so that in death we might find resurrection.
I am convinced that, as we weep today, heaven weeps with us. God knows
the pain of separation and death. He knows the toil of tears and grief. God,
after all, is personally acquainted with death in the person of his Son Jesus. I
am sure that God was weeping that day that Jesus was offered up on the
I know that God wants the best for his children, and when we stand before
the casket of one so loved, who has now died, God shares our grief because
he knows the depth of our sorrow.
But just so, I am also convinced that heaven is alive with joy today because
they have welcomed one of their own back to her eternal home. I believe
that heaven is alive with the singing of angels and the praises of all
creatures, because the truth of heaven is being proclaimed. Phyllis has –
through her faith in God, her singleness of heart, and her belief in the grace
of her Lord – taken up residence in the mansion of many rooms, the place
prepared and reserved just for her by Jesus.
The book of Revelation tells us, “Look, look! God has moved into the
neighborhood, making his home with men and woman. They’re his people,
he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for
good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone – all the first order of things
gone….Look, I’m making everything new…” (Rev. 21:3-5, The Message).
For Phyllis, everything has become new. Never again will she know pain.
Never again will she struggle with a heart that doesn’t work too well. She
has been reunited for all eternity with those who have gone on before:
Wesley, Allen, and Jerry. She’s taken her place at the banquet table of