Funeral Meditation based on Revelation 22:1-5 and John 14:1-3
On the inside of your bulletin is a beautiful passage of scripture from the book of Revelation.
If we want to know what this place is like… this place that Jesus promises he will take us… we need to look no farther than these pages. This life that awaits us will have room for many, and never again will we hunger or thirst. Never again will we be left without shelter or shade. Never again will we be on our own… the Lamb of God will be our Shepherd.
Now, knowing a little something about Doris Fry – I’m not sure that she would necessarily take kindly to being a sheep. Doris was really more of the shepherd sort, herself. She was an independent sort of lady who minced no words and told you how it was.
But perhaps, in the way that she loved you… in the way she cared for you and for others… we saw in her life a glimpse of what our life with God just might be all about.
Doris was born to William and Lina Turner on Feb 22, 1927. She went to the Cedar Rapids Beauty School and owned and operated her own beauty shop for many, many years here in Marengo. And along the way – she fell in love with a man named Gene and they were married in 1946 at the Methodist parsonage.
Family was very important to Doris and she loved to travel – especially down to Missouri and the Ozarks where much of the family was. But sometimes her home was the destination for others and her home was always open to family who stopped to visit. As Jesus promises there will be room for many in his father’s house… you might have caught a glimpse of how many could fit in a home and some of you gathered with family to fish and to laugh and to enjoy one another’s company.
I’ve also heard famous things about Doris’ table. Randy shared with me that Doris always cooked way more than anyone who was gathered around the table could possibly eat. She often would feed Gene and the men he worked with, and would make different sorts of dishes to make everyone feel loved and included. At Christmas, Doris used to make all sorts of candies and sweets and pile them on plates for people to take with them. When we imagine our future with God where we will hunger and thirst no more… perhaps you caught a glimpse of that future around a table where everyone could have their fill.
Doris Fry spent her lifetime serving others. While running her beauty shop she provided a place for women to gather and talk. Although as she spent time this last year with some of the men that Gene used to hang out with – she promises that there is more gossip flying around those guys than ever there was in her beauty shop.
She was also, I’m told, the unofficial team hairdresser for the Iowa Valley Wrestling team – in a time when hair had to be so short or the young men couldn’t compete, Doris would often be called upon to give the guys a trim right there in the locker room.
For many years, Doris cared for her own mother, Lina. She taught Sunday School at the church. She loved and enjoyed everyone who came into her life.
Doris is an example for many in her family about how to love deeply and strongly. I think one of the things that sticks in my mind about her is a time when I visited Doris and Gene in the hospital. They were sharing a hospital room… both in there for different reasons – but they were joking and enjoying one another and at the moment that was all that mattered.
In the midst of the ways that she cared for others, there was always a God who loves her moving in the background, always making sure that Doris was cared for and always preparing a place to which she would one day be called.
Jesus told his disciples that in his Father’s house there is room for many – and that a place was being prepared for them and for us. As you remember all of those things that you loved about Doris – all of the ways that she spent a lifetime caring for all of you, telling you the truth, and loving you – you can be assured today that she is today in the presence of our God and that she is home.
But also know that a place is being prepared for you. We gather today, because we believe in a God who walks with us through this dark valley. We gather today because we believe in one who will guide us through this valley of the shadow of death to the light of life eternal on the other side. This is the God who wanted to be with us and for us so much that he came to earth as a fragile infant, and lived and moved among us. This is a God who cares so deeply for us that he gave up his very life, so that we might all have life and have life abundant.
As we remember Doris’ life today and in the weeks and years to come, there will be times to cry and times to laugh. Times for joy and sorrow. And we need to let all of those emotions and memories to simply sit with us – to simply be… because it means that we remember and that we cherish what we have lost. But also know and take assurance in the fact that those who mourn will be comforted. The same shepherd who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death walks beside each of you today and as you leave this place and will walk with you until you arrive at that place where every tear will be wiped from our eyes and there will be weeping and crying no more. Amen.