the Funeral for Doris Pearl [Muehlbrad]

Psalm 139. 1-12
It’s all about the love! It’s always been about the love!

“If a little is good, more has to be better!” That’s the rule of thumb for us Americans! “If a little is good, more has to be better!” It’s the way we have of doing things. Even here, at a time like this. We apply that saying to the songs we sing. To the prayers we offer. To the words we read. “If a little is good, more has to be better!” Right? But, over the years, I’ve found that even the smallest things can be most inspiring. Not a chapter, but just a verse. Not a paragraph, but a phrase. From the moment it looked like Doris wouldn’t make it, there was one phrase that kept echoing through my thoughts. A phrase from a prayer from a funeral service in an old hymnal. Just a half-dozen-or-so words we don’t use, any longer.

“the generations rise and pass away before you …”
“the generations rise and pass away before you …”

That’s what life looks like from god’s perspective. That’s the view, as they say, from thirty-five thousand feet. The present is a wave surging through time! Sweeping up and carrying along one generation after the next! Each one, for a moment, riding the crest and, then, crashing onto the shore of the future! Picking up the next generation and carrying it along, until its time comes. “the generations rise and fall, rise and pass away before you …” It happened to our parents. It happened to our grandparents. It happened to their parents before them. And it will be that way for us. And another generation – our children – will follow. And as they do, they, too, will come to a place just like this. To remember. To say, “Goodbye.” To comfort and be comforted. And maybe, most importantly of all, they, too, will come here to believe!

You see, believing isn’t an individual effort. Something we do alone. Something we do all by ourselves. It takes a village! It takes a village to believe! We do it together! Yes, we come here to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman! But there’s more to it than that. Yes, we come here to share the stories! To listen! To tell! But there’s more to it than that. And yes, we come here to place Doris into Jesus’ sure and certain arms! But there’s more to it than that. We come here, as well, to believe! To believe together!

It was in a place like this, among people like you, that Doris was baptized! It was in a place like this, among people like you, that she learned she was loved, that she learned she was forgiven! Love, forgiven, not just for a moment or two, but always and forever! It was in places like this, among people like you, that she learned, too, learned to believe! To trust! To have faith! And if there’s one thing a funeral is about, it’s the love! It’s the love! Our love for Doris! Doris’ love for us! God’s love for us all!

Doris was the youngest of three. She’s the last of her generation. They’re all gone. Now, we ride the wave. But the love is still here! The love with which she loved us! The love with which she was loved! That’s become the love with which we love the generation that comes after us! That love is the life! That love is the wave that surges across time! The wave that sweeps us u and carries us on! Love is the wave that washes us up on the shore of the future!

It’s the love! It’s always been the love! Right from the start! From the very beginning! Love created us! Love sustained us! And love will raise us up, at the last! That’s what brought us here, this afternoon! That’s what we sing! What we say! What we celebrate! What we remember! What we believe! And we do it … together! That’s the only way we can!

So, as the generations rise and pass away – as they rise and fall – we come together, just so many before us have. To tell the stories. To share the memories. We smile. We laugh. We wipe away the tears. We listen to the singing. We say, “Amen.” We read and we wonder. And in the end, we will place Doris where she has always been … safe in god’s keeping. Where we have always been, as well. Generations are born and generations pass away. They come and they go. But the one thing – the only thing – that remains the same … The one thing – the only thing – that never changes … is the love! Is the love! Love creates us! Love saves us! Love makes us new! Over and over! Again and again! Time after time after time!

Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our sister! Into your arms, we place our grandmother! Our mother! Our friend! Rest eternal grant her, O Lord! And let light perpetual shine upon her! Let light perpetual shine on us all!

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