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Summary: A Funeral Sermon

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The Meaning of Life… (Everett Gaskill)

Adapted from Sourcebook of Funerals

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Lord of all creation, we have rejoiced at a time of birth; today we cry at a time of death. Our hearts have soared at a time of dancing; now they sink in a time of mourning. Give us comfort, dear God, and remind us that all of the cycles of nature are under your control. Turn our grief into gratitude as we give thanks for the life of a friend and family member, and celebrate his passing into life everlasting. In the name of the Lord Jesus, we pray. Amen.

- Read Obituary –

What is the meaning of life? This question was asked of a number of prominent thinkers several years ago, in an issue of Life magazine. Martin Marty, a church historian at the University of Chicago, answered by saying, “Love. To love and be loved.” That is the meaning of life. The Bible tells us: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Everett understood the meaning of life. He knew, and practiced, the importance of love. I was told a story of how Everett always gave his grandchildren a hug at the Nursing Home, and if he didn’t receive one he would let you know by rapping you with his cane. In the end, this isn’t such a bad way to have known God, for as the bible tells us, “God is love.” We can give thanks that the God who created Everett and put him in this world to live in love, has now received him with arms wide open, ready to give him a hug.

I was told also that the only thing Everett wanted to see before passing was a great-grandchild. He was able to do that, and so we can take solace in the fact that Everett is at peace, having seen all he wanted to see.

Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, had this to say when asked about eternity, “When I go down to my grave, I can say, like many others ‘I have finished my day’s work.’ But I cannot say, ‘I have finished my life.’ My day’s work will begin the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight, and opens with the day.”

Isn’t that the truth, the fact that death is not the ending of the book but rather the first chapter with our life being but an introduction? That is the great news, the fact that God has set forth for us to continue on in our adventures. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Both life and death are part of the same great adventure.” We are told in the Bible that Death is just the beginning of the rest of our life.

We are blessed to know that we can never truly go beyond God’s love and care as the poem The Eternal Goodness illustrates.

“Yet, in the maddening maze of things, and tossed by storm and flood, to one fixed trust my spirit clings; I know that God is good! I long for household voices gone for vanished smiles I long, but God hath led my dear ones on, and He can do no wrong. I know not what the future hath of marvel and surprise, assured alone that life and death his mercy underlies. And so beside the silent sea I wait with muffled oar; no harm from Him can come to me on ocean or on shore. I know not where His islands lift their fronded palms in air; I only know I cannot drift beyond His love and care.”

That is the great good news of God. He is ever watching over us ready to come with arms wide open for an eternal hug. He loves each and every one in this room and forever will. He has taken Everett home with him, and seeks to see you there.

Let us pray:

We thank you, God, that the meaning of live is love. We praise you for being at the heart of this great truth, and for giving all who love a chance to know you. Your child Everett knew and practiced the importance of love, and we are thankful that she came to know you through his loving action. You gave him the ability to live a life of love and honesty, and you renewed his inner strength when his outer was weakening. Grant all your peace as they mourn the passing of their loved one. As grateful as we are for his goodness, we are even more thankful for yours, O God. You are the one who gives life meaning and who offers us the gift of everlasting life. We thank you that nothing in all creation can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is in his name that we pray. Amen.

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