As the family and friends of xxx xxxx we are gathered today in the presence of God both to remember him and also to find comfort from the word of God during this service of remembrance.
The Lord Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Shall we pray: Our heavenly Father, we thank you that we can come into you’re your presence anytime but especially when our hearts are weighted down with sorrow. Father, you know the grief that’s experienced by xxxx’s family and his many friends and the need they have of your comforting presence and the strength that can only come from You and Your word. Grant that each of us might look to you as we wrestle with the loss of one who means so much to us and help all of us to realize afresh that there is more to life than what meets the eye. And allow us in our time here today, to hear a message from your word with an open heart that we might respond in a way that’s pleasing to you. For we do ask this, in Jesus name, Amen.
I’d like to ask xxx xxxx to minister in song at this time.
I’d like to read a story Jesus told that He used to explain God’s love for all of us and it’s called the parable of the prodigal son.
“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”
So, here we have a story about a badly behaved son who was referred to as a prodigal and the word prodigal simply means wasteful. We don’t know any personal details about him; we don’t know how old he was or what his interests were but his whole approach to life seems to be summed up in the title prodigal. In other words, things meant nothing to him and as far as he was concerned money was meant to be spent. His motto would have been, “We’re not here for a long time but we’re here for a good time.”
I think he was the type of person who only did what he had to do and that was as little as possible. He probably spent more time getting out of work than actually doing any and he looked forward to the day when he could see it all in his rear view mirror.
As we read this story we get the impression his whole life revolved around short term satisfaction. He wanted what he wanted and he wanted it all right now. I mean, he couldn’t wait to get his inheritance and when he got it he blew it like there were truckloads of money coming in the very next day. Have you ever met someone like that?
When I was a youth pastor in Guelph we had a young couple who came to the church looking for money to pay their gas bill. Well, it was winter and they had a six month old baby and so for the baby’s sake we gave them what they needed. They had lived in an old house they had bought it with some insurance money the girl’s mother had left and the husband was really kind of lazy and he just did odd jobs a day or two a week or whenever he had to.
Then something bizarre happened that changed everything. The real estate market went crazy in Guelph and people were buying houses for 105% of market value. So, if you were selling your house there might be several people bidding on it and everybody was making money fast. And this young couple who couldn’t pay their gas bill one week, sold their house the next and walked away with $35,000 after their bills were paid.
Well, the first thing they did was to call in a second hand furniture dealer and they sold everything they had; including the babies crib. I went to see them the day after the dealer left and they had all slept on the floor the night before. And then this guy told me; he had to go for a driver’s test because he needed to get a license to drive the brand new car he had bought the day before and he said he needed that to pull a brand new camper trailer.
The only way to describe this couple was; they were dizzy with excitement. After all, one day they couldn’t pay their gas bill one day and the next, they had money to burn. And let me tell you, burn it they did, because they went through the whole $35,000 in six months.
I tried to talk him into using some common sense with his money but he just said, “There’s a lot more where that came from.” And I often wondered; where did he think it came from. And yet, I learned a valuable lesson from him because people who never have to work for anything never appreciate it when things come their way.
Someone told me they ran into them in Vancouver and I asked how they were doing and they said, both the car and the trailer broke down and they were depending on a church to help them get started again.
So, this prodigal as well decided he was going to leave and when he left he had no intention of coming back. And when he left he totally turned his back on his family, his religious training, his culture, his social connections and everything else he could have relied on to help him in times of trouble. And as far as we can see; he had no redeeming qualities. I mean, he was demanding, arrogant, full of himself, hateful toward those who cared for him and generally he was the type of person that you’d be glad to give him whatever he wanted just to have him go away.
Well, how do you react to someone like that? What do you do when your own son says, I want your money but I don’t want anything to do with you? Well, here’s the strange part of the story. The father just gave him what he figured was his share and let him go. And it seems like a very unusual approach because it was like his father was saying; you mean much more to me than my money. So, when he left, I think the father might have closed the door but he certainly didn’t lock it.
Well, he got his money and he went as far away as possible and did all the things he couldn’t do at home. And I think he was really having a good time but he was about to learn a very important lesson in life. And it’s this; the pleasure of sin is short. There is pleasure in sin, but it doesn’t last very long because as we see here, the money ran out and all of his friends ran out behind it.
The Bible says that a famine swept through the land and he became a victim of his own lifestyle. After he spent all he had, prices began to climb and this poor little Jewish kid ended up feeding pigs and wishing he could eat their food. As I was reading this, I wondered why he didn’t just help himself but the problem was pig food isn’t eatable. They feed the pigs the pods off carob seeds and people can’t digest them. So, here he was, a Jewish kid wishing he could have a pig’s lunch. And listen, you don’t get much lower than that.
And depending where you’re at in life, not having a lot affects different people in different ways. I remember my grandmother telling me that during the depression everyone had food stamps and you could only buy so much sugar or other things every week. And I said to her, “Did you have to do without a lot of things?” And she just laughed and said, “They gave you food stamps but no one gave you any money, so the stamps were useless.”
But this prodigal had come from a well to do home and no doubt he could have had anything he wanted whenever he wanted it and now he was sitting in a pig sty wishing he could share their garbage.
And I’m sure he had plenty of time to think about how good he had had it, back when he thought, he had it so bad. And after a while both his hunger pains and the stink of the pigs woke him up to the fact that his father had servants who were doing better than he was. So, he decided to go back and throw himself on his father’s mercy.
And then there’s an unbelievable turn in the story because it says, “When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ - And when he said that; everybody who was listening to this story got the surprise of their life because the father not only accepted and forgave him but he treated him as though he had never left in the first place.
I like the way he rejoiced over his son’s arrival because the father said to his servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” And what he was saying was, don’t treat him like he deserves, but treat him like my son.
And there were four gifts mentioned. First he said, “Put sandals on his feet." And sandals portray freedom. Slaves were always barefoot and his father wanted everyone to see that this was his son. And then he said, “Put a ring on his finger." And a ring was a symbol of power and authority. He wanted people to know that his son carried the weight of the family name. And then he said, “Bring him the best robe" and giving him this gift wasn’t just a sign of honor but it also was a reflection of his love and concern for his son. After all, this was the robe, he would have worn for special occasions and he wanted everyone to respect his son the way they respected him. And then he told them to set up a great feast or a celebration because the joy of his son’s return had to be announced and shared with everyone.
Listen, the story of the prodigal son is a story of all of us. We have all gone our own way, we’ve all done our own thing and we’ve all found ourselves in the pig-sty of sin. And now, we have to decide, will I come back to the Father and confess my sin and receive His forgiveness because of what Jesus Christ did for me on Calvary’s cross or will I just keep on going the way I’m going and face God’s judgment in the end. Listen, just as this father received this son back again, God will also receive you. So, let me ask you, are you going to come back to Him?
I’d like to call on xxx to minister in song once again.
We will have the committal service now; following which will be a time of refreshments for those of you who are able to stay.
“And now, may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. Amen.”