Memorial services can be an excellent calibration point for us to remember what really matters in life. Who will make the effort to show up to honor and celebrate the person’s life? What will people say about the person who passed away, either as part of the official ceremony or afterwards at the reception? What will stand out about the life that was lived?
So often, it isn’t the day-to-day cares and concerns of life that get highlighted, but instead it’s the deeper matters and overarching story that shine. Ironically, there is almost zero overlap between the two! We witnessed this again recently.
A couple weeks ago we celebrated the life of Skip Murphy, who was a pastor at Cornerstone from 2004-2015. I have always been intrigued by his dramatic testimony; highly recommended to watch how he describes it using very broad terms. The proverbial Prodigal Son would be impressed by Skip’s personal story of coming home to the Father. At the bottom of his life, Skip met and recognized Jesus as the Light of the World. In response, God asked him to start and lead the Lighting Department at Cornerstone. God still has the greatest sense of humor of all! At his memorial service, everybody described how Skip personally impacted their lives. He helped people get back on a better life track again. Skip was also recognized for having led the efforts to establish the first-ever physical expansion of Cornerstone to the Merced site on Brotherhood Way, which today would be the Riordan Campus (an extremely important church asset during these trying times of Covid).
In sharp contrast, nobody talked about his bank accounts, stock portfolios, academic degrees, real estate properties, or job titles (in all fairness, it was mentioned that Skip at age 19 had been the youngest tugboat captain on the Bay).
The ultimately relevant question to consider is, what will God talk about on the day following our own funeral service? On resurrection day! In the end, God’s assessment of our lives is what is really important (Psalm 96:13, Proverbs 21:2, 1.Co 4:5).
When we consider what truly matters in the big picture, memorial services invite us to consider three areas: personal goals and concerns in life; how we are regarded and remembered by others; and God’s final evaluation of our lives. Jesus, in His life on earth, presented the best and only example of someone balancing all three perfectly. We live our lives doing our best to follow in His example and, like Pastor Skip, demonstrate stories of grace, healing, and hope along the journey. As we strive to lead meaningful lives, let’s be guided by this bible verse:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24