Funeral Sermon Roy Woodward
June 1, 2013 Leave a comment
Time. Roy was well aware of the Preacher’s truth in Ecclesiastes that: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Roy had a time to be born, and this past Monday was Roy’s time to die. In between these two times, Roy spent a lot of time living. Living very well, I am pleased to add!
For Roy there was a time to grow up, go to school, and live through those “dirty thirties” when life was difficult, and Roy had his stories to tell about that. Yet, such difficulties were often seen by Roy as opportunities to learn and do what he could to make the best of the situation at hand. For Roy there was a time to go to work and to meet the love of his life, and marry Reita. Roy enjoyed his time at his work for the Government as an assessor. For Roy and Reita there was a time to raise their two daughters. As the years went by, for Roy and Reita there was a time to retire and enjoy travelling.
During the course of all those years, Roy also devoted his time to serve in many capacities as a volunteer in the community at places like South Ridge Village, and on the Good Samaritan Society’s Board, and, of course, in his church. For Roy there was a time to serve his LORD by teaching Sunday School, sitting on Church Council, and serving as treasurer at Grace Lutheran Church. Roy spent a lot of time in and around the church—puttering around doing various jobs repairing this, and fixing that, and trying to figure out how best to scare away those noisy crows that roosted in the trees and drove the neighbours crazy! J When yours truly went on holidays, I could depend on Roy to devote his time to leading lay services at Grace as well as at South Ridge Village. When the time came to move towards the closing of Grace, Roy was a very articulate dissenting voice. Yet, when all was said and done, Roy was not one to hold a grudge or be unforgiving. He accepted the decision and remained gracious and cordial towards those with whom he disagreed right up to the end. Roy had a servant heart, his loyalty to our Lord and his church was an inspiration to us all. His love of neighbour was very practical, everything from doing carpentry jobs like building a neighbour’s hand-railing; to making the beautiful cross and mobile banner stand for the South Ridge Village chapel; to helping others with their income tax; and more.
Roy enjoyed life immensely and lived a life filled with meaning. I’m sure he would say, along with the author of Ecclesiastes: “I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.” This, I think, would be Roy’s prayer and wish for you Reita and all of you other members of Roy’s family.
In the last couple of visits I had with Roy in the hospital; he told me that he knew his time on earth was short and he was at peace with that. The only thing he was concerned about was you Reita, and you other members of the family—especially the grandchildren. He said that he knew there would be sadness and a time of mourning for you. He said he loved you all dearly. Then he said: “Grieving is the price we pay for loving.” How true! I would add that those who grieve deeply also love deeply. So take the words of Ecclesiastes as an invitation to you—this is your time to cry and time to mourn. In the crying and mourning there is healing, for our loving God is with you, and we are with you. One wise contemporary rabbi and author, Noah benShea, I think is correct when he says: “Life’s challenge is to find the gift in our grief.”
As Christians, that gift is, the LORD our God who, like the psalmist says is: “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Or as Martin Luther re-worded Psalm 46 in his most famous hymn: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The confidence expressed in Psalm 46 may have been based on God’s protection of Jerusalem during the time when the powerful Assyrian army failed to capture the city around 701 B.C. More than the walls around the city, God was Jerusalem’s Mighty Fortress. Why? Because “The LORD of hosts is with us.” The LORD Immanuel—God with us. God who, in the vision of the psalmist sees a future filled with redemption of all creation when God’s kingdom will come and bring complete peace; the Shalom of God by making wars cease to the end of the earth; destroying all weapons of war. God who was Roy’s Mighty Fortress, giving him 86 years to live a life filled with blessing upon blessing; giving him that peace which passes all understanding right up to the end.
Such divinely-given peace is also a by-product of God’s saving and justifying grace, which the apostle Paul speaks of so confidently in our Romans passage. Through Christ’s sacrificial, atoning death on the cross absolutely nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the language of the courtroom, Paul, like a confident lawyer makes his defence for the saving, redeeming power of Jesus. Then, in verses 37-39, I can imagine Paul visualizes Jesus as the perfect defence lawyer and God the judge who states with utter confidence the consequences of what Christ has done for us—nothing separates us from Christ’s love the judge declares. We have no worries, no fears, we are in God’s hands no matter what, thanks to Christ’s love for us.
So yes, we can find the gift in our grief because the gift is Christ’s love for us. A love that is always with us unconditionally, just as Jesus himself is always with us. May you find comfort in the saving work of Jesus; trusting in him always as did Roy who has gone to his eternal reward with him in heaven. So with the confidence of our faith we commend a loving son, husband, father, grandfather, faithful church member, child of God, Roy Irwin Woodward to Christ our Saviour and Lord. Amen.