Reta Lutes Funeral Message
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I would like to welcome you all here this afternoon, which is made sacred with the spirit of love and friendship you bring to this space. On behalf of Reta’s family I would like say “thank you” so very much, to all of you who have come to be with them today.
We are here to say farewell and to honor the life & memory of Reta Lutes. We remember and celebrate Reta for her inspiration and devotion to her family, her service to her church and community, her compassion for those in need, her love of children, her adventurous spirit, and the hope that she had placed in her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is for that final reason, her hope and unwaivering belief in Jesus, that know that we are saying farewell today and not good bye.
We are also here this afternoon to offer thanksgiving and gratitude for Reta’s time with us and we know that her presence is here amongst us in our time together through all of our loving memories of her as we meet to celebrate her life.
Each of us comes with our own unique memories of Reta, for she was not the same person to any two people. And, we each bring our own special memories of a woman who touched our lives with love & friendship in so many different ways.
Reta’s was a life one that was well lived, rooted in her faith. So, please join me as we take some time to open in prayer.
Our Father in heaven, we open our time together today acknowledging your presence all around us. Nothing is hidden from you, O Lord. You know each and every person who has gathered here today. I commit to you every person in this room. Let Your Spirit move in our midst and bring peace. Lord, direct our thoughts to you as it is not easy for us to stand here and say farewell to her, but we know that Reta is now together with You in heaven. With her being with you it means that she is not here with us. It is painful to gather for this reason. But in the midst of pain, we give great thanks. And as we are here together, we remember all the good times we’ve spent with her. We recount all blessings we’ve received through her life. We thank you, O Lord, for all the wonderful ways you’ve used Reta in the life of every person here today. As we remember her, let the unconditional love that you showered upon Reta during her life fill this place. Let your grace be upon each person that is here today. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
He Leadeth Me
Joseph Gilmore was preaching at a mid-week prayer service on the topic of Psalm 23. He wrote later, that he set out to give the people an exposition of the 23rd Psalm, but he got no further than the words ‘He leadeth me.’ Those words took hold of him as they had never done before. He saw in them a significance and beauty of which he had never dreamed…At the close of the meeting a few of of his people kept on talking about the thoughts which he had emphasized; and then and there, on a back page of his sermon notes, he penciled the hymn just as it stands today, handed it to his wife, and thought no more of it… She sent it without his knowledge to be printed on December 4, 1862.
Psalm 23 & 1 Peter 1:3-9 Rev. Andy Scott
A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Where the Roses Never Fade
We rejoice in the lives of the ones that come before us. Those who set an example in life and in love. We have so much to be thankful for when we think back on each of our relationships with Reta.
I know that she still had her sense of humour right to the end. I was watching the slide show earlier and I was counting cakes. I was told there have been A LOT of cakes. She, at one point, was telling me about her trips with seniors bus tours. She shared a story about walking across a suspension bridge and someone was jumping on it. She told me that she didn’t like that one bit. Although, she said that with a big grin, so I am not so sure.
The other night I sat in Reta’s living room and listened to lots of laughter around stories from over the years. As I listened I thought to myself, “what a great legacy.” I heard about her family and just a small peice of her history. Yes, there were tears. Some of sadness and some from laughter, and others from good memories.
I want to say that it has been a profound honour to get to be a part of Reta’s life these past two and a half years.
Covid 19 made it very difficult to safely visit with her and most of our time together has been on the phone. But the few times I got to meet her in person and the other times we spoke on the phone were always encouraging. She always had something positive to say. She never complained. She always seemed full of peace.
Even in her last weeks, while she was in the hospital. She was taking care of everyone around her. You couldn’t keep her down. I watched and listened to all of the stories of her getting someone to get chocolates for the nurses so they knew how much seh appreciated them. She also made sure that her kids were taken care of. Telling them to get rest and from what I was told she wasn’t reminding them to rest but telling them too. Listening to all of the great stroies over the past few days it is undeniable that she was a good mom, friend, sister, and example of a Christ follower.
I didn’t know her for a long time but I know this: She had an incredible capacity to love. That is evident by the people she had around her. Both her family and her friends.
I can only speak this afternoon to what I have known of Reta these past 2 years. I believe that the passage that came to me for today captures what I have come to appreciate about her. I also, believe it is an appropriate reminder of who God can be for each one of us.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
She always spoke to me about her love for the Lord. Even in some of her lowest days she always told me that when she got to feeling down that she would turn to her Bible or just remember that God was always with her.
I think this is an important reminder to always to remember to rejoice in the Lord. Even on hard days like today. We can rejoice and be sad at the same time.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
In the short time I knew Reta I was always moved by her gentle spirit. She always had a kind word and an encouragement. Even when I was calling to encourage her.
I am willing to bet that many of us can think of multiple times where that was the case.
She always told me, everytime we spoke, that she felt the presence of the lord near her. It was so amazing to see her faith and her conviction that God was there.
I was told by multiple people in our Church family when I first started at Uplands that “if you needed someone to pray for something Reta should be your first call.”
Boy were they right.
I want to encourage all of us today that no matter where we stand in our relationship with God we need to always remember that a little gentleness can go a long way.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
When I met with Reta in the hospital, she knew that “she would not be returning to her home in Riverview but going to her new home in Heaven.” She told me how she was ready to go.
One of the last things she said to me was, “God better not change His mind this time.” Then she chuckled. She spoke of her new home in heaven. She spoke of seeing people that she had said farewell to over the years.
We can’t know for sure what she was feeling but I can say that from what I witnessed She cast her cares on the Lord and trusted in Him.
God hears us when we pray. He always answers. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes the answer seems unfair. But God sees the big picture and while we may not understand we CAN trust and put our hope in Jesus.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We need to remember that we are not walking this time of grief alone. We can always turn to God and trust that He will see us to the other side of our trouble.
The theme of our service today is “being lead by the Lord”. That is not by accident. The music was chosen by Reta. She is encouraging all of us to let God lead us and to trust in Him.
She said to me multiple times over the years, “God knows better than we do.”
Isn’t that the truth?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Does this mean we can’t be sad or angry or scared or frustrated or confused? No! Feelings are how we deal with many different things. They are a gift from God.
But, we can get caught up in all that can go wrong in our lives. We can get stuck. We need to keep from dwelling on those things. We need to find the beauty in our lives. Beauty that is all around us.
Our relationships, the places we live, and in the place we are in today, our memories of our time with Reta.
Hold on to what is lovely and discard what is not. God wants so much more for us than the bare minimum and the gift He has for us is permanent. That is what Reta is enjoying as we speak.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This final verse is a admonition or a plea from Paul to the Phlippians. It applies to anyone who walks with the Lord faithfully.
Rejoice in the Lord, Cast your cares on the Lord, Trust in the Lord, and focus on what is good. These are all things we can strive to make priorities in our lives.
If we turn our lives over to God then our Good byes will shift into farewells or so longs. God provides peace that surpasses all understanding. What a wonderful gift Reta had while waiting to meet with Jesus in paradise.
We need to acknoledge that this hurts. Maybe it is a little confusing. We are happy that she is not in pain and that she is finally with Jesus. But she isn’t physically here and that’s hard.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
There is where our hope lies. Where Reta’s hope was firmly planted. In the belief and pursuit of Jesus.
Saviour, like a Shepherd Lead Us
Many songs written from Psalm 23 act as hymns of assurance and confessions of trust. We know the text well – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” This Hymn is a differnt interpretation. Rather than a statement of our faith, it is a prayer that stems from our faith. It goes a step further than the psalm’s declaration. We know that God is our Shepherd. We know why we trust. And because we have that trust, we ask that God be faithful. We ask not in doubt, but in faith. Every verse of this hymn contains a promise we have from God, and a prayer we make because of that promise. This is how we are called to live our lives as followers of Christ – in prayer, because of faith. This hymn is a beautiful example of how we might live out our calling.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of this life on Earth. We thank you for the life of Reta, for the years you gave her and the character that you shaped in her. We thank you for her life, for every memory of love and joy, for every good deed and every sorrow shared with us. We thank you for the rest in Christ she now enjoys. We thank you for giving her to us for a time, and we praise you for the glory we shall share together for eternity. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great goodness. As a father is tender towards his children, so is the Lord tender to those that fear him. For he knows of what we are made; he remembers that we are but dust. Our days are like the grass; we flourish like a flower of the field; when the wind goes over it, it is gone and its place will know it no more. But the merciful goodness of the Lord endures for ever and ever toward those that fear him and his righteousness upon their children’s children.
We have entrusted our beloved Reta to God’s mercy, and we now commit her body to the ground: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust: in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our frail bodies that they may be conformed to his glorious body, who died, was buried, and rose again for us. To him be glory for ever. Amen.