Summary: This message was prepared for a quarterly memorial service remember residents of a senior living community who had passed during the previous quarter.
Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s play, “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar”, gives an oration in which he says, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.” I would take issue with this, and, in fact, the end result of Anthony’s speech was that the people of Rome remembered the good that Caesar had done and forgot the evil.
The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But the Bible also tells us that the true and lasting treasures of this life will be laid up in heaven where neither moth nor rust can harm. These treasures are the good we have done, the love and charity that we have shown.
All of us need encouragement from others, and, all of us can share encouragement with others. Moments of sharing can be treasures that live after us. We have the opportunity each day to be agents of God’s redemptive love.
The Apostle Paul tells us that we can become like letters from God written to whomever we encounter. When the Gospel of God’s Grace is written upon our heart we become not only letters, but also like mirrors helping others see themselves as God sees them—precious persons of infinite worth. And as we become God’s love letters to one another, we grow into the likeness of Christ, and the community as a whole is enriched because of it.
As you think back over the lives of these our friends and loved ones whom we remember today, there will be treasures remembered, times in which these persons have touched your life in some special way. The simplest gesture may go unnoticed yet through the power of the Holy Spirit, become known to you as a redemptive moment.
I think back to one night when I was a child when my father simply said to me “good night son”. He did so with such tenderness that the moment has remained with me to this day. I think also of a day when he took me hunting, and I don’t remember that he ever again did so. But one day he did, and I remember the sun shining through the golden leaves, the crisp sound of walking through the beautiful leaves that had already fallen, and my father’s presence with me. I don’t remember anything that he may have said that day but I remember that his presence with me.
My dad was far from perfect, and he would be the first to admit this. And yet, ultimately, it is not the mistakes that a person has made that live after him or her, but rather the good and the kindness that that person has shown… and it doesn’t have to be all the time. All it takes to make a lasting impression are a few of these redemptive moments. And as we grow in consciousness of this fact, we gain courage and confidence as we move along the path to the completion of our own life.
Let us remember those moments shared with those who have helped shape our life. And may those moments life forever! Let us treasure the memories that we have of the good that others have done, and let us let go of the remembrance of the mistakes others may have made. Mistakes are not remembered in heaven. But, the good things we do, our love and compassion, are.
I would like to end today with a poem by Mrya Brooks Welch, “The Old Violin—The Touch of the Master’s Hand”.