Faithlife Sermons

Memaw's Funeral

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Today we come together to celebrate the life of Lynn () Townsend. Some know her as Mother, some know her as Memaw, some know her as friend. I think what uncle Keith read earlier was such an accurate representation of who my Memaw was. She has always been loving, sweet, goofy, fun, and just an overall incredible woman of God. I am so grateful for who she is and what she has meant to all of those around her.
I know for me, these types of gatherings can be difficult. What words can we say that truly expresses how we feel? I’m reminded in times like these that what we really need is not just words, but we need something more.
Something that speaks with certainty.
Something that speaks with authority.
Something that provides comfort & peace.
Something that speaks joy in the midst of sorrow.
That is why we look towards the One who provides such things. God has spoken clearly through His Holy word. God’s Word makes some incredible promises for those who have died with their life submitted to the Lord. Let’s look at what Paul wrote to the believers as an instruction about those who have passed:
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 LEB
Now we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you will not grieve as also the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, thus also God will bring those who have fallen asleep through Jesus together with him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who remain until the Lord’s coming, will not possibly precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be snatched away at the same time together with them in the clouds for a meeting with the Lord in the air, and thus we will be together with the Lord always. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The first promise for the believer is an eternal life in glory after this life.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–14 LEB
Now we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you will not grieve as also the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, thus also God will bring those who have fallen asleep through Jesus together with him.
Some of your translations may say “fall asleep”, and the beauty of this terminology is that this separation is all temporary. Paul is writing this to believers as a way to express that while we may grieve, we don’t have to grieve like those who have no hope. We can see this because the scripture teaches that those who have died in the Lord are with Christ. This truth is also taught all throughout scripture.
2 Corinthians 5:6–8 LEB
Therefore, although we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we live by faith, not by sight—so we are confident and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
We don’t have to grieve as those with no hope, because we know by her own testimony that Memaw is “at home with the Lord”.  What a beautiful reminder.
Not only does the Bible promise believers eternal life in glory after this life on earth, but…
The second promise for the believer is a resurrected body. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.j 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. What we can see from these verses is that those who are followers of Christ Jesus will be raised from the dead.  These verses teach us that those bodies of Christians that are sleeping in the graves will one day come forth--be resurrected when Christ comes back. In vs. 16 we see that the souls of the believers (who are now with Christ) will be reunited with their resurrected bodies at Jesus' coming for His church. And that bodies is described so beautifully in Revelation 21:3-4: 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home[a] of God is among mortals. He will dwell[b] with them; they will be his peoples,[c] and God himself will be with them and be their God;[d] he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for[e] the first things have passed away. Let me make sure that you heard that correctly: no more pain; no more sorrow, crying, tears; no more sin; no more death. Praise the Lord! We don’t have to grieve as those with no hope. We know by the profession of her own faith that Memaw will be reunited with her resurrected body at Jesus’ coming for His bride – the church. There is one more promise that we get from this text which is…
The last promise for the believer is a reunion with Christ and other loved ones. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. This is two-fold. The first is with the reunion of our loved onea. This means that you and I have the opportunity if we are followers of Christ Jesus to be reunited with our loving Memaw. That is why many times we call these types of gatherings a celebration of life, because we know this is not a good-bye, but a see ya later. I know it’s a cliche saying, but we also can rest knowing that Memaw is in a better place. She is reunited with many who have passed from this life and get’s to spend the rest of forever with our Lord and our Savior. What a promise.
As I was reflecting on my time with Memaw, there were so many stories that I wanted to share. Some of which demonstrated her love, some her goofiness, and some that were just down-right hilarious. But this is the one that I loved so much. Growing up, Every Summer I would always spend a good amount of it spending the night with Memaw. We would find all kinds of trouble to get ourselves into. Sometimes it was as simple as going to a bike-park or Cici’s pizza (which she knew was one of my favorites). Other times it was late nights on the back porch having some encouraging and funny conversations. One of these conversations is one that has stuck with me. One Summer I was with my Memaw and I got a call from my mom where she told me that her and Dad had been in a wreck. They were okay, and they made sure to reassure me of that, but if you know anything about me, you know that I overthink. They just wanted to make sure that they communicated with me.
Even though my mom had reassured me that her and Dad were okay, I still panicked. To the point that they had to come pick me up because I just wanted to be with them. Memaw knew that this shook me up, and so we had one of those 'good ole’ conversations on her back porch with some coca-cola and cantaloupe. The thing that I will always remember is that she said “Don’t worry… God has them in His hands.” While me and my hard-headed self still wanted to be picked up after that just to be with my parents, this statement still rings true today. For those of us whose hearts are broken at the loss of our wonderful Mother, Aunt, Great Aunt, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Friend… Don’t worry… God has her in His hands.
The last verse of our text says “18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” And what I would encourage you is this…
If you are a follower of Christ Jesus, cling to hope that we have in Him. For you, this may be a difficult season. Grief and heartache can happen, but remember what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Yoke yourself to Him.
If you are not a follower of Jesus, I invite you right now to ask Christ to not only be Savior over your life, but to be Lord of your life. That is to recognize the weight of your sin, as Romans 2:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” and Romans 3:23 says that the wages for this sin “leads to death” … an eternal separation from Christ Jesus, but it doesn’t stop there… it continues “but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Scripture tells us that “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:9
I am so grateful that Memaw knew Jesus as her Lord and Savior from her sin. It was this faith that sustained her through this crazy thing called “life” for 92 years. Because Memaw had trusted Jesus Christ to be her Lord and Savior from sin, on the authority of God's Holy Word, I can say that Memaw's soul is now with Jesus in glory. Her body will one day be resurrected. We'll be reunited with her and spend eternity together with the Lord.
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