Summary: I prepared this sermon for use in the case of a late term still birth. It can be modified slightly to fit any infant memorial service. These are difficult situations. Much prayer and compassion and humility are advised.
Parker’s Memorial Message
I wonder if perhaps… In fact, this thought has brought a great deal of comfort to me this week… I wonder if recently an angel in heaven opened the book of life and seeing Parker’s name printed within, said “This one is too beautiful to see the ugliness of this world. He shall go home to Heaven right away.”
As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I am called upon to do some difficult tasks. You presently join me in what is likely the most difficult up to this point. In what follows, I offer the humble thoughts of a fellow traveler through the dusty, rocky trails of this life; nothing more than the reflections of a fellow pilgrim.
At times like this we look for meaning. Indeed, our faith is tested. The soundness of our theology, our understanding of God and of ourselves, is put to the test. Is our love deep enough to endure? Is God’s grace vast enough to suffice?
We want to make sense of such suffering. Why does a sovereign and loving God allow that such pain should continue in this world? Those who know me well know that I despise trite, pat, answers and cliché. I have long said that I would rather have a difficult truth than an easy lie. The truth is this.
Though I have searched high and low, for a number of years, in the annals of human wisdom and in the pages of Sacred Scripture, I have not found a sentence or collection of sentences which will cure the heartache of such a loss. When we are in the valley, we must walk through it to get to other side.
Yet, this is not the only thing that is true. I also know that while there are no words that can easily stop the pain, there are words which point us toward the place of healing; to the person through whom healing is available.
Parker has only known the love of his mother, father, and family in the safety of his mother’s womb and the love of Christ in heaven. His knowledge of love and provision are so pure. We are gathered here out of pure love and honest respect for Katie & Joe and all of their family and for each other.
The past several days have been difficult. Emotions are raw. People try to comfort. Questions swirl in our minds, and sometimes we’re not sure what we should think or feel. So as we honor Parker’s little life, would you allow me to be so bold as to remind you of a few things you can know for sure?
1. Know that you have a right to grieve.
2. Know where Parker is. “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4).
3. Know God’s love for you and Parker. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). All that occurs is well within the scope of God’s provision and care, though we may not understand it.
Through examination of the Scripture, the lives of other believers, and the activity of God as it is discernible in the world generally, I am compelled to believe all of the pain and struggle in this life is intended for the very same purpose of the joy; to draw us to a place of dependence upon God.
All of the control that we think we have in this life is an illusion. It can be stripped away in only a slight moment; and it is in these moments when it is stripped away that the beautiful things of this life become more obvious – a friend reaching out in need and another reaching out in love to meet that need; looking like Christ.
This year my wife and I decided to plant tulip bulbs in the fall. We had never done this before but I have always found it fascinating that tulips are planted in the fall, as everything is fading, so that in the spring they come up in beautiful rich colors. In fact, it was Katie’s mother who suggested that we cover up the tulip bulbs with mulch in our raised beds to help protect them from the scorching cold of winter.
They are planted in winter, just as the seeds of tomorrows joys are often planted in the winter time of life. Though it is difficult to see now, if we allow it, the winter times of life can draw us closer to one another.