Summary: Funeral message for a male believer. Ideal for an avid sports fan.
SURROUNDED BY SOMETHING BETTER
Funeral Message for Charles Shirah
Text: Hebrews 12:1-2
As I started to prepare for Charles funeral today – there was a passage of scripture that just kept coming to my mind. That’s not really odd itself. But the unusual thing was that I’ve been pastoring for over 30 years now – and I’ve never used this passage, or even thought of it as a funeral text.
It’s found in the book of Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 1 - 3. And it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
I don’t know if you’re all aware of this or not – but nobody knows for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews. Now, obviously, we believe God inspired it. But we don’t know who the human instrument. . .writer that God used was. Every other book of the N.T. – we know who wrote it – because somebody took credit. . .ownership for it. But Hebrews is known as the “mystery book” of the N.T. – because nobody said, “Yes, I’m the author.”
Many people believe that Paul wrote it – as he did at least a third of the other books of the N.T. There’s a lot of evidence to support that theory. And part of that evidence was Paul’s love of sports. Paul loved sports. . .athletics. . .competition. And many, many times – Paul used sports illustrations to drive home his point. He talked about “running. . .fighting. . .wrestling.” He talked about life being a “race” – and winning the “victor’s crown.” Paul loved sports.
And one of the reasons why many people believe that Paul might have authored Hebrews – is because this passage I read sounds like something he’d write. He said, “. . .let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” That sounds like vintage Paul.
And if you’re wondering “what the point is, Pastor Danny?” Well, I’m not trying to conduct a Bible study this morning. And I haven’t forgotten that it’s a funeral. I know that we’re here to honor the life and memory of Charles Shirah today.
But to really understand Charles – I learned that it really helped to understand what he loved. . .passionate about. I had the privilege of having Charles and Ann in my church membership class a little over a year ago. And one of the things that I learned about Charles in that class was that he was a HUGE Auburn University football fan. And now, understand – he wasn’t a stay-at-home, watch it on TV fan. Charles was a motor home driving. . . camp-out in the parking lot. . .travel to wherever they were playing. . .tailgate party. . .season ticket holding fan.
And I learned that all I had to say to Charles – for him to be my “best friend” – was, “How about them Tigers?” If you hated Alabama – or you cheered for Auburn – you were Charles’ friend for life!
And you know, even this year – when Auburn hasn’t dominated that way they did last year – and they’re not going to a BCS bowl this year – and they aren’t winning the championship this year. All I had to do when I went to visit Charles in the hospital. . .home. . .hospice – was to ask him, “Who’s Auburn play this week?”
And his face would light up – and he’d tell me who they were playing. . .how they were doing. . .how much he wanted to get back down there with Billy and Caroline, and the gang! I said, “It must be kind of tough seeing them struggle like they are after such a great season.” And Charles just smiled and said, “At least I lived to see em win one!”
Auburn might have very well lost their number one fan last Friday. But you know why I think that passage from Hebrews really came to my mind? It wasn’t the reference to the “race being run.” It was actually the little phrase that started off verse 1, “. . .since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.”