Friday, November 22, 2013

Another funeral

Just a two days before we left for Adeanya's funeral we learned that a family in our ward (or congregation) lost their baby girl. She was just 2-1/2 months old and died in her sleep from SIDS. The family was on vacation while the father stayed at home working. Clay visited the father to comfort him as he prepared to drive down to be with his family. Clay then had the task of informing the ward of what had happened.

Just two days after we returned from visiting with Clay's family and remembering the life of his grandmother, he was asked by the family to speak at the funeral for their baby girl. He had less than 2 days to prepare.

I sat in the services and was so impressed by what Clay said. I had not read it beforehand yet we had talked about some ideas. Our thoughts had been on life and mortality and what happens next for some time now. Our feelings were still tender from the loss of his grandmother. As I listened to Clay speak I felt I needed to share it here on my blog. This is not what I normally do. But I know I need to share it. I hope you take the time to read through what he said. 

1.      Introduction & Acknowledgment
a.      Good morning. I am thankful to be here with the (names removed) families, and with you all, Brothers & Sisters in the Gospel and in the Family of God. My name is Clay Hunt and I am currently the Elders Quorum President of the Potomac Crossing Ward where (names removed) and their children attend church. Their family has asked me to share a few words about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the comfort it provides to them at such a difficult time as this. I am humbled to be asked and to be trusted to share such words. I pray that the Power of the Holy Ghost will be with me and continue to be with all of us at this time.
2.      The Gospel is a great comfort – Good news
a.      As I spoke with (the father) about what words or phrases or scriptures have come to mind at this challenging time, he responded that his knowledge of the overall Gospel of Jesus Christ and the summation of its parts have been of great comfort to him.
b.      The Gospel is indeed Good News. When the angel appeared to the shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth, he said: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
c.      The Apostle John summarized the Good News of the Gospel when he declared: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
3.      Abraham and the Covenant
a.      Abraham, the great prophet of the Old Testament, made covenants with God when he received the gospel, received the Priesthood, and when he received the covenant of eternal marriage. In these covenants, God promised great blessings to Abraham and all his descendants The Lord promised Abraham that “in thee, and in thy seed after thee…shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” These blessings, which extend to all of Abraham's seed, are called the Abrahamic covenant. Even with our understanding of [the Gospel], we can scarcely envision the magnitude of that promise the Lord made to Abraham.
4.      The Temple and the Sealing Power
a.      The (names removed) Family has also received this covenant, even as Abraham received it. Today a man and a woman can enter sacred temples dedicated for this purpose, and receive the sealing ordinance (or eternal marriage), which unites them as husband and wife not only in this life but for all eternity, and unites the children born to them with that same sealing power.
5.      (names removed) – Married in the D.C. Temple on (date removed)
a.      When (names removed) entered the Washington, D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on (date removed), they were sealed together as husband and wife. The children born to them (names removed) were born into that covenant and are entitled to all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They have all received the promise that their family relationship can continue ‘through all eternity and shall be of full force when they are out of the world’ (D&C 132:19).
6.      The Atonement of Jesus Christ
a.      From the Book of Mormon, Alma Chapter 38 Verse 5 we read: And now, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 38:5)
b.      Why do we put our faith and trust in God and in His Son Jesus Christ? It is because of his Atonement, the promise of the Resurrection for all men, women, and children, and the promise of eternal life for those who put their faith in Christ and endure in that faith to the end of their lives.
c.      The Book of John in the New Testament records the following conversation: 
           i.      23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
          ii.      24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
          iii.      25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
          iv.      26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
7.      The scriptures contain great words of comfort about what happens to the spirits of the righteous between death and the resurrection, and after the resurrection. They are contained in the 40th Chapter of the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon.
a.      11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
b.       12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
c.       21 until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
d.      23 The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.
e.      25 And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.
8.      The scriptures also make special mention of the promises extended to Little Children and those who die without a knowledge of the Gospel. In the 8th Chapter of Moroni in the Book of Mormon, we read:
a.      8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them.
b.      12 little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world.
c.       In the book of Luke, Jesus says, speaking of little children, “for of such is the kingdom of God.”
9.      For those of us who remain and continue on in life, what is our motivation? It is to live faithfully, that we might be reunited and live forever as a family with our loved ones who have gone on before us. As we remember (name removed), let us remember that Jesus exhorts us many times in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon to ‘be as a little child’.
a.      Matthew 18: 1-4
          i.      1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
          ii.       2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
          iii.       3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
           iv.       4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
b.      Mosiah 3:19
          i.      19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
c.       Moroni 8:10
          i.      10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
10.  In the most recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, said:
a.      In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.”
b.      Elder Holland continued: “So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. As President Thomas S. Monson said: “That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.” Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.”
11.  Brothers & Sisters, I want to close by sharing my testimony with you. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and living and real! God’s love is always there for you. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will all one day be Resurrected. And if we are faithful, and humble ourselves as a little child, and follow our Lord and Savior to the end of our mortal life, we will know the joy of spending eternity with our loved ones in the Kingdom of Heaven. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

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