[Note: Grandma asked me to say something at the memorial we held for Grandpa a few weeks ago. Below is what I presented.]
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)
Why are we here? That is a question we ought to ask, and consider, in regards to our own lives—how we are living, and why. But discussing the meaning of our lives is not why I am speaking today. My question today is, why are you here at this gathering? Each of us is here for our own reasons, and today I want to explain why I am here.
People come together after someone has died for many different reason. Often people gather after a death to provide and receive comfort and encouragement as best as they are able. Where is comfort and encouragement found? I find my comfort and encouragement in what God has done in Christ Jesus.
My comfort and encouragement today is not found in the good things Grandpa did in his life, whatever they might be. I have not come here to remember the good things Grandpa has done. Like all men, Grandpa was a sinner, and, even as the apostle Paul said of himself, it can be said that he was the worst of sinners. We are all the worst of sinners, and in knowing that my comfort is found in God’s mercy. Today, I reflect on God’s mercy, and love. Today, when I look back on Grandpa’s life, that is what I remember. That is what I am here to remember.
God showed His mercy and love in Grandpa’s life—both to Grandpa, and to us through Grandpa. God showed mercy and love to Grandpa in bearing with him in his sins, and equipping him, in spite of his failures, to do good. And God has shown us mercy and love in giving us a father, and grandfather, like Grandpa. God has used Grandpa as a vessel of His love in our lives, as many of you here can testify. In the weakness of Grandpa God is revealed, and in the blessings of Grandpa God is revealed. These past three years of Grandpa’s life were hard—hard for Grandpa, and hard for all of us as we watched him succumb to Alzheimer’s. Perhaps especially hard in the last weeks as we watched him approach the end. Some people may want to forget those hard times, but I don’t. I am here to remember those hard times, and I hope I never forget them. For it is in the hard times that we most clearly see, and feel, the love of God. And it was in these last years of Grandpa’s life, and in the final days of his death, that I saw clearly the mercy of God. I don’t want to ever forget that.
When I look back on Grandpa’s life I am comforted, and have hope, because I see the faithfulness of God. More than just comfort and hope, I rejoice in what God has done.
Why am I here today? I am here today to remember what God has done. To remember what God has done in Christ Jesus, and how that love of God in Christ was poured out through the life of Grandpa. For those who are in Christ, the hope is this:
[W]hen the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. (Titus 3:4-8)