Friday, 8 May 2009

Psalm 139

The following is a part of a funeral sermon preached about a woman who the relatives were ambiguous about when they talked about her. I include as much as I can without giving away too many specific details (I have changed some to keep the flow) as I want to protect her identity. But it illustrates the need to be as honest as the relatives allow in order that the picture that is painted remains real,

“I don’t know about you but I find those words from Psalm 139 a little bit scary. They tell us that the God who made us knows everything about us. Nothing we do, it says, escapes his knowledge. He knows not only what we do but why I do it. He knows whether I do it for selfish or unselfish reasons. He knows my faults, failures and secret sins. That’s scary – especially if we have something to hide.

But also at the same time I find it deeply reassuring. It means on the one hand that those who think that they can get away with horrendous crimes in this life won’t in the next. God sees all. And on the other it means that God knows the times I do things for the right reasons with the right motives, even though I am sometimes misunderstood.

In fact he knows every secret thing about me and those things I keep hidden from others. God has “searched me out and knows me” and has “discerned (i.e. understood) my thoughts from afar.” So when I stand before Him – as we all will do one day – He will be scrupulously fair and just because He, unlike us, possesses all the facts.

So as we say our farewells to N. and commit her to God’s gracious keeping, we do so confident that He knows everything about her/him and will do what is right and just and fair.

Doris has been with us for 68 years now. She was born on Forest Road, Landow, worked in various jobs including the old Shoe factory in Newbridge. She’s has lived in so many places that I could take up another five minutes to name them all. During this time she was married briefly to Graham with whom she had her 3 children, and also later to Malcolm with whom she spent ten happy years travelling the globe. The family are very grateful to Malcolm for broadening Doris’s horizons still further taking to Canada, the States and Eastern Europe.

Doris enjoyed the simple pleasures of life – bingo, cigarettes and any fruit machine that came across her path.

As a person she could be stubborn, difficult and very outspoken. If she didn’t like you she’tell you, although it did not prevent her making friends with the people she did like through the various bingo sessions she attended. She also enjoyed many good times with her sisters Gail and Averyl.

In the end she showed great courage in facing the cancer that would end her life and spoke openly about the fact that she was dying wanting no flowers, no fuss, no crying and no black.

I don’t know if Doris knew the Christian message – it’s almost impossible to discover these things without talking them through. But if she did she would know this wonderful truth – that whatever any of us have said or done can be forgiven by God, because Jesus took our sins away on the cross. All our sins – secret or public – can be washed away.

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