Sermons

Summary: Funeral sermon for Doris Reynolds Parker, veteran teacher, civil rights worker, and mother, whose spirit of determination we can complete if we commit to justice, kindness and a walk with God.

Perfection is difficult to come by! No matter how good

something is, it is always possible to find flaws. It is always

possible to discover imperfections.

When I was in engineering school, I took a class in

drafting. My professor’s claim to fame was that he could,

without a compass, draw freehand a perfect circle. Just

with his pencil and muscle control, he could put on paper

what appeared to be a complete circle, with no variations in

the distance between the center and the circumference.

That’s what it appeared to be; but, of course, we students,

delighting in taking our teacher down a peg or two, found

that if you used a ruler to check it, the circle was not

perfect. There were wobbles and wiggles. Not perfect.

Perfection is difficult to achieve.

I have this terrible talent of being able to spot a misspelled

word in the middle of a text. I don’t know how I do it, but I

do it. I pick up a book or a paper, and immediately my eye

goes to the mistake. It drives typists crazy! Someone once

gave me a report, and said, “I have been over this a dozen

times. I have used my computer program’s Spell-check. I

defy you to find any mistakes.” So I picked up the report,

turned to the first page – the first page! – and there, about

halfway down, it said, “For the first time in several years,

our expenditures have exceeded our budge.” Our budge?

As in, “Here I stand and I won’t budge?” No, it was

supposed to be “budget”, and this eagle eye of mine was

the one to catch it. She wouldn’t speak to me for a week!

Perfection is so hard to achieve.

But the truth is that perfection never comes to you and me

without the involvement of others. Completeness never

comes to us without the contributions of others. And, most

important, our lives and our works are not complete until

they are taken up and carried forward by others who follow

us. Great authors’ books are not complete until an editor

revises them. Great artists’ paintings are not complete until

a framer puts them into a proper setting. Great musicians’

compositions are not complete until a performer interprets

them. And great lives are not complete, not perfect, until a

succeeding generation takes on the challenges they leave

behind.

I think that is what the writer of the Book of Hebrews is

talking about when he gives us the roll call of the heroes

and heroines of faith, but then says that they would not,

apart from us, be made perfect. All these worthies of the

Biblical record, having accomplished so much, having done

such daring things – their life stories are not complete apart

from us in this generation.

Doris Reynolds Parker lived a long and successful life. For

eighty-five years she fought the good fight, dealing with

discrimination and injustice, working to support her family,

but always determined, and always faithful. She lived a

long and successful life, and now, at her passing, we are

tempted to say that her life is complete. In a sense, it is;

but complete though it may be, it is not yet perfected. Her

life will be perfected only in you who survive her. Apart

from you, she is not made perfect. Perfection is so difficult

to achieve; in fact, it never comes without the involvement

of others.

To what did Doris Parker devote herself, and what will it

mean to perfect her legacy? What I know of her life and

legacy can be summed up in that powerful statement of the

prophet Micah, given some eight centuries before Christ:

“He has told you ... what is good; and what does the Lord require

of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly

with your God?”

If you would perfect Doris Parker’s legacy, turn to these

things.

I

First, what does the Lord require of you but to do justice? I

am told that if you look at some of the old pictures of the

early days of the civil rights movement, and if you focus in on

some of those gatherings of the Montgomery Improvement

Association, you will see, right up there next to Dr. King and

the other leaders, Doris Reynolds Parker. She gave herself

to the cause of justice. She poured her energies into a

cause that was to grip the soul of America and bring us all,

black and white, to a new day.

Isn’t it a wonderful happenstance that Mrs. Parker’s death

and funeral come right during the time we are

commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board

of Education decision? Isn’t it somehow just exactly right

that the life of one of those pioneers should be gathered up

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Winfred Phillips

commented on Nov 4, 2006

Very Helpful

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