I was very close to my mother. When she passed on, I was privileged to lead the service for her funeral and share the eulogy. While it IS about my mother, it is also about God's plan for life. I'm sharing it here as a way to honor her and perhaps help you on your journey to the other side of life; The real side of LIFE.
On behalf of my father, the children and our spouses and the grandchildren and great grandchildren present today, I say thank you for your attendance. Sending your sympathies is nice. But showing your sympathies by being present is a gift to us.
-I’d like to read a passage of scripture as begin our time together today. Like you, I have been to many funerals. I’ve sung at funerals and officiated at funerals. But not like this one; not to me. In this case, I am somewhat grief illiterate I suppose. Losing a parent is like being initiated into a club and it feels like I was just made president. I would like to read a passage that speaks to me today: John 14: 27, “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
My faith informs this experience today. My faith is working today because of what I believe God’s Word says about what is happening here. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. In my father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you?” I’m not making things up as I go. What I believe is grounded in God’s Word which I have studied and experienced in my life for many years. Some might say that faith is a crutch for those who can’t handle death. But those of us who have experienced God’s faithfulness know it’s not. It’s truth. And if it doesn’t work in moments like this, it doesn’t work at all.
The eulogy of my mom’s life will take us to the kitchen today. I don’t know if it was my mom’s favorite place, but it is certainly the place she spent the most time in her life. I want to tell you more about Ruth. But I would like to present it in a way best suited to who she was. It’s a recipe. We’ll call it “Ruthie’s Recipe”
We’ll gather up our ingredients:
Loving Mother and Mother-in-law
These are all organic. She was purely defined by who she was and not what she did.
I thought about what we would make today. Should we cook or bake? She did both so well. But since it’s Ruthie’s recipe, it needs to be sweet. We’re not going to compare my mother’s baking to your mothers. You will LOSE. She had NO RIVAL. I’ve got two words for you: CINNAMON ROLLS. You’re done. Home-made buns. Stop It. How many of your wedding cakes did she bake? Who here has a recipe from her? I rest my case. Once she submitted her cake to the County Fair for judging. She did not win. She was disqualified because her iced roses were too perfect. They thought the cake was store bought. Store bought? What an insult.
Let’s start our concoction with a cup of craftiness. Besides cake decorating in which she was an icing Picasso, she sewed, quilted, cross-stitched, did leather work, and made so many things with her hands. Watching her make a trailing pine wreath from start to finish, was like watching an artisan ply their craft. Once, she decided to try her hand at whittling. Once. She won a blue ribbon at the fair for her little creation. Whittling. Once. She was an artist.
Next, we’ll add a spot of sports. She never really had the opportunity to play sports in school, but she was athletic. She was an infielder for Hopewell’s Women’s Slow-Pitch team. She loved football following the Bobcats on Friday, the Nittany Lions on Saturday and the Steelers on Sunday. And she was always at any sporting event her kids did. I did wrestling and track. Sandy played softball, basketball, and volleyball. Eric and Jason played football. She even came all the way down to Virginia to watch Ben win a national championship in Rugby and earn MVP of the game.
Pour in a bit of sass. Actually, a better word might be "devlishness". Hard to believe such an angel could have a devlish streak. Sweet and salty taste good together. If you really wanted to see this on display, she needed to be with her sisters and especially with sissy la-la, Franny. They were two peas in a pod and now they are together again. Lord, help them. I’m sure they are finding a way to bend the rules in Squares or other table games. She also loved to scratch……lottery tickets. Once in blue moon, Maggie would take them to the casino. Such a bad influence on my sweet mother. Then, there’s the story about how my mom and dad almost won 10 and ½ million dollars. One night when the lotto was high, my parents filled out a ticket with dates of birthdays. There were two more kids and only one more slot. Should it be 4 for Eric or 5 for Jason? They thought about filling out two cards with the same first four numbers and then one with a 4 and one with a 5. But, they decided to go with Eric and put down the 4. The next day the numbers were read off and the first four numbers matched. Mom got so excited that she clapped her hands and the television went off. She had forgotten that we had a clap-on; clap-off remote. What was the final number? Turns out it was….5. If they would have just gone with their favorite son, Jason, instead of Eric!!! We would have won 10 ½ million dollars. We’re still in therapy. There were times when her devlishness got her in trouble too. Grandpa McCrea told her not to ride the bike down the hill. It didn’t have a chain and so no breaks. But, he would never know. He was gone. So she took the bike down the hill. Wheeee. Until she saw him standing in the shed watching her go by. Mom said it’s the only time she ever got spanked….and with a shovel.
Whip that together like she used to whip up those incredible dishes for family gatherings; and she loved those. Holidays, birthdays, picnics on the hill, McCrea Reunions, corn roasts, and more.
Taste the batter, like she would let us do when she was stirring up chocolate chip cookie dough. Too Die For. It’s an agreeable taste. Agreeable. That’s a good word for her. She had a likability factor. She didn’t have an enemy, that I know of, unless it was one of dad’s old girlfriends who held a grudge. I rarely if ever heard her talk ill of people. She had opinions, but she wasn’t opinionated. Thoughtful. Sensitive. I never heard her have a heated argument outside the home. She was very much liked and very much loved by her entire family.
Now to pour that into our pan we’ll need a funnel. Why a funnel? Well, I’m glad you asked. I wrote a book called “The Funnel” about the meaning of life. My thesis is you only define meaning in life by understanding eternity. I’ve study this for 35 years of full-time ministry. Maybe I have it right and maybe I don’t. But the more I understand forever, the clearer the meaning of life becomes to me. And my understanding is the relationship between now and forever is like a funnel. But we’ve got it backwards thinking that life is the big end and eternity is the little end. It’s upside down you see. This (the narrow end) is life. Jesus called it “The Narrow Way” and it was only through him and by him that you can enter heaven. He called his disciples to follow him and be like him. Living THAT way opens up a world that we can’t begin to imagine.
It may seem harder pouring life through that narrow way, but those that follow Jesus as his disciples are reminded I have come so that you may have ABUNDANT LIFE. In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.
I don’t believe this because it makes me feel better about death. I believe it because it makes me feel better about life. For Jesus says The kingdom of God is at hand….NOW. You don’t have to die to live in that Kingdom. The only recipe you need to live that life is called the Roman Road Recipe: Understand that you’re a sinner who needs a Savior. Someone to save you from your sin nature and death. Jesus did that on the cross, He died for your sins and he rose again to defeat death. Check. Check. Now. Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead and you WILL be saved. I believe and I preach there is no other way.
Bake it for 85 years. In sickness and health, richer, and poorer, good times and bad times…LIFE.
You see, it’s not the end at all. This world is a pressure cooker. It’s nothing like what God created it to be. It is an oven where we are being cooked to make something where all the ingredients that went into us come together to make something new. But you won’t burn. Not if you trust in Jesus…and I do. Because at just the perfect time, when the bell goes off, JESUS open the oven door and everything that went into your life, comes out in FOREVER. You smell that? Angel Food.
My mom loved to cook. And I know there is food in heaven. The Bible tells us again and again. There may come a time when she cooks again, but not Now, she sits at the table and she feasts.
Psalm 34: 5 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is GOOD”. The Lord is GOOD indeed.
My father in heaven;
You are GOOD. You have shown us your goodness through the life of this wonderful soul. Every artist who creates is a part of the creation. We have seen YOU in her life. GOODNESS. Because she put her faith and trust in you, she joins her mother and father, Grandma and Grandpa Smith, Uncle Don Rook, Uncle Dick Smith, Lisa, Willis, Don, Lynn, Jim, Manny and her precious and dearly loved sister, Franny in heaven with you. What a glorious concoction. Your word says that you are the Father of lights and that every GOOD and PERFECT gift come from above. We have seen it and we have experienced it in the life of my mother and we are GRATEFUL to you. Full of THANKSGIVING.
Now may the peace of God which transcends all human understanding Guard the hearts and minds of those loved ones that are left behind; the people in this room and others who will naturally and rightfully grieve loss. Give to us that PEACE that only you can give through your Divine Spirit. We will not only miss HER cinnamon rolls. HER baking and cooking. HER devlish grin; HER artistry; or HER cheering us on. We will miss HER.
In JESUS Name