Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Eulogy for a Christian woman who had a wide impact on her community and other people

James Doyle tells of when he was a 5 year old and 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 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 Abba’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!”

And that is where we find ourselves today, in the strong loving arms of Jesus. God knows what it means to love and He knows what it means to lose someone He loves, for that is exactly what he experienced when Jesus died on the cross. The Jesus’ fourth saying on the cross, he cries out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The further along the journey to the cross and death, the more Jesus must have felt alone. But all of that paled in comparison to the overhelming feelings of separation from God Jesus experienced in that moment. It wasn’t that God has abandoned Jesus, He was right there on the cross with Jesus the entire time. But Jesus on the cross carries with him the sins of the whole world. And suddenly he finds himself for the first time touched by sin, submerged in it, drinking it, breathing it, tasting it, smelling it and experiencing it and its effects on his relationship with the Father, with whom he has always been one. For the first time he experiences the anguish of separation from God, now separated physically, emotionally and spiritually from the Father as He took on the sins of the world.

In Jesus’ last words, he cries out ’Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ With this last breath, Jesus was committed to remaining in submission to the Father. It is a reflection of his total trust in the father. ). It was the ultimate act of submission. His cry was not for the hands of men. Prior to this moment, His life was in the hands of men. Not because they took it but because He gave it. Voluntarily He delivered Himself into the hands of sinners, and now, voluntarily He delivers His spirit into the hands of the Father. Now he fully and completely places himself and his life into the hands of God and once again feels unity with the Father in the face of death.

So God knows sorrow, he knows the pain of a loss but he also knows death because it was in the very midst of death that he was with Jesus and he is with us today. We are comforted by His presence which strengthens us and encourages us in these moments.

Today, we have come to remember the blessings, memories and lessons of Madelyn Lirett. We come to give thanks for her life and what 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. No matter the need, Madelyn was one who always put others first in her life. She’d give you the shirt off her back, if you needed it and she always had the time and the place for people to come and go. Whenever she cooked her wonderful meals, there was always more than enough to go around. She never knew who was going to be at the dinner table but there was always an extra chair and plenty of food. Her home was where everyone was welcome whether it be the kids in the neighborhood after school or the firemen who just stop ped by to chat. And they knew if they needed a snack, there was always a loaf of bread and a huge tub of peanut butter and jelly just waiting to be dipped into.

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