Thoughts From a Memorial Service

Last Friday, my husband and I attended the memorial service of one of his primary mentors.

We didn’t really use the word “mentor” back in the day. Pastor Bob was the pastor of Jim’s family’s church and also the father of his best friend. Jim said at the memorial service that he had spent almost more time at this family’s home than his own during his teen years, not counting sleep time.

Three of Pastor Bob’s children were in college when we were, so I got to know them when Jim and I started dating. The youngest came to the university later, but we were living nearby at the time. We saw her sometimes on campus and had her over occasionally. She began attending our church, and when she married, her husband became one of our assistant pastors. So we got to know them well, too.

We had hoped to have time to visit with the family before and after the memorial service, but we also didn’t want to intrude. We knew this was a special time for them when they needed each other, plus they had other friends and relatives there. But we did get to catch up with them during the visitation and at a lunch afterward that they graciously invited us to. Then Jim’s friend invited us to his house afterward, where all the family would be visiting the rest of the afternoon until different ones needed to head back to their homes. It felt something like a family reunion, and we were blessed to be a part of it.

Memorial services are good and sad at the same time. The whole reason for such a service was due to a beloved person’s absence. But it was a joy to hear of his life, his humor, the sayings he was known for, his heart for people, his integrity and work ethic. After each of his children spoke, the mic was open for anyone in the congregation to share a memory or something they appreciated about Pastor Bob. It’s amazing to consider the ripples that spread from one life to so many others.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 tells us, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.”

The “house of mourning” reminds us that

  • Our lives will come to an end, and we need to be ready. “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
  • Our lives will influence others for better or for worse. “A good name is better than precious ointment” (Ecclesiastes 7:1a).
  • “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
  • Jesus is preparing a place for us (John 14:1-6), a place where He dwells, a place with no sorrow, crying, pain, sin (Revelation 21:1-4).
  • Believers will see their believing loved ones again after death (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

I’ve also pondered this last week that what I think of as the “old guard” —the faithful people who were major influences in our lives—is almost gone. They weren’t all old in years, though many were. Both my parents and my husband’s have passed away. The woman who was the greatest influence of my life next to my mom passed away a few years ago. The pastor of my early formative years went to heaven just last year. Now Pastor Bob. Other pastors, teachers, aunts, friends have gone on ahead.

Some of these were the ones I most counted on for prayer and counsel. What am I supposed to do without them?

Well, God is faithful and supplies all our needs. He counsels us through His Word and brings others in our lives to strengthen and support us.

But I’m humbled and stunned that I am supposed to be the “old guard” in others’ lives now. Who is sufficient for these things? Not me. But He is. Memorial services also encourage me to give my one brief life to Him and to others.

Are you ready for heaven? If not please, please, read here.

Two songs have been on my mind the last few days. This first one, Ron Hamilton’s “Goodnight,” came to mind because it was the reality of my husband’s friend, Steve, who took care of his father the last several years. The first stanza tells of a dad tucking his kids in bed and telling them good night. In the second stanza, the son now tucks the father in with the same message. In the third, the father has passed away, and the son looks forward to seeing him “in the morning.”

This one was sung at one of our former churches often and was sung at another former pastor’s funeral. Then I saw it on my friend Kim’s blog just before attending Pastor Bob’s memorial.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

27 thoughts on “Thoughts From a Memorial Service

  1. I’m saddened for your loss Barbara. What joy all those in Christ that have gone before now experience.
    I know the pain of loss, having lost my daughter, son & late husband.
    And in recent years our son in law. Who are all enjoying God’s glory now.
    Bless you,

  2. I’m sorry for the sad goodbyes that had to be said, but glad that you all have the assurance of heaven. What a beautiful segue to the words of the Teacher about going to the house of mourning. It’s hard for us to spend time there, but that bittersweet place reminds us of all the things you mentioned, and hopefully encourages us to use our time here wisely.

  3. I have also mourned the loss of that generation and their diminishing influence. It’s hard, but it encourages me to be mindful of my own mortality.and the coming reality of a world without me.

    • I was just pondering recently what to do with some family history items. I don’t think any of my children are interested in them, but I am keeping them in the hopes that they will be some day. I’d hate for them to get lost along the way–but then I am stunned with the thought that in 100 years, likely we’ll all be forgotten, plus our treasures. One of this pastor’s oft-repeated sayings that was mentioned was “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” A sobering and apt reminder.

  4. My condolences! I too have been thinking more and more about becoming the oldest generation around — yikes! It seems to have happened so quickly too. I remember thinking about things a lot as a child and teen, then those young adult years seemed to go by in a flash of busy-ness, and wham — here we are. I too pray for wisdom to be a mentor to those coming up. Thank you for introducing me to these two songs; they’re beautiful and both are new to me.

  5. I’m sorry for the loss of your husband’s mentor, Barbara! I appreciate the thoughts you shared from reflecting on his memorial service. The husband of one of my close friends passed away recently and his service was similarly a day of great sorrow but also of great hope in the truth of eternal life. These times definitely give us perspective on what really matters.

  6. Sorry to read about the loss of a friend. No matter whom we lose, it is hard. Condolences. People are losing so many these days with Covid and other illnesses.

  7. I’m sorry also to hear of this loss. It’s always sad to lose those who meant so much to us. What a blessing that you all were included in several of the family’s gatherings, and were able to catch up. Memorial services are never anticipated, but they usually do provide good things alongside the grief because of the people still around.

  8. I’m sorry to read of this loss. I have also pondered what I will do when the godly influences in my life are taken home. It has challenged me to make certain that my roots go deep in my faith and that perhaps, God will use my influence in the life of this next generation. We each have such a vital role in passing the faith. “Only one life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” A line that has stuck with me for many years but I am not sure where I read it. May God bring you and your husband comfort.

  9. How right you are about the good and sad aspects of such a service. I’m glad the family was able to have a gathering — so many could not last year due to pandemic restrictions.

  10. I’m glad you were able to join with Pastor Bob’s family for those special moments, Barbara. There’s so much comfort in remembering together. I’ve felt that void in prayer and counsel very acutely since my parents died. God has been faithful to bring other mentors into my life, but it’s still sobering to think that my siblings and I are now the oldest generation in our family. With two teenagers looking to me for guidance in this troubled world, I feel like I’m praying for wisdom continually!

  11. I’m so sorry for your and Jim’s loss. I had to say goodbye last Saturday before last to a precious friend and mentor. I still can’t believe she’s no longer with us. Her memorial service was indeed a celebration of her life and I actually came away uplifted. Those of us left behind are sad, missing that person but happy for them that they are with Jesus.

  12. I’m sorry for the loss of your precious friend and mentor, Bob. He and his family sound like wonderful people. The changing of the guard seems subtle at first, then it’s done, and we’re the last one standing. May the Lord give us the grace and wisdom to love and encourage others.

  13. Pingback: Friday’s Fave Five | Stray Thoughts

  14. I’m so sorry to hear about this loss, friend. My heart is stirred by the way Bob’s life is still touching hearts — even through your words right here. What a powerful legacy. Thanks for sharing these words today.

  15. Barbara, What a beautiful job you’ve done here of taking your loss and translating into words that remind us of precious truths we can hold onto in our own losses. May God comfort you and your friend’s family.

  16. Dear Barbara,

    I’m so sorry for your loss and pray God will be a comfort to you, your husband, and Pastor Bob’s family. You’ve shared such rich truths from this difficult time and have blessed me.

    Thanks for linking up with us.

    Peace and grace,

  17. So sorry for your loss, Barbara, but so grateful for these reflections. It’s sobering to think that we are the “old guard” now–but you’re right! May God help us to love and lead well.

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  18. Pingback: Friday’s Fave Five | Stray Thoughts

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