Text of Larry Pitt's Funeral Meditation

by Reverend Sandy Douglass

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.   The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fully accomplished for us who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him "Father, dear Father."  For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children.  And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, then we must also share his suffering.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse.  All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.   And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us.  Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don’t need to hope for it to come.  But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.

I don’t know of any pastor who likes to do funerals. Ask any of them and they will tell you they much more prefer weddings, baptisms, and Christmas pageants. Even so, we know that even now, just as it always has been, first we are born and then eventually, we die. Death is a part of life, and all of us most accept it.

Even so, no one will ever convince me that it’s God’s plan for mothers to bury their children or for young wives to bury equally young husbands. And yet it happens, it happens every day. Jesus’ mother, Mary, had to bury her son far too early. And our heavenly Father had to bury his Son, in order that all of us might know the glory intended for us from the beginning.

Young wives should not have to bury their young husbands. Children should have time to grow up and mature before they bury their fathers. Brothers and sisters should not loose brothers and sisters while they are all still young. Yet we know it is so. We see it every day. We see it here today.

Larry Pitt was my friend, too. He grew up in Gladhill’s Drug Store, just like I did. He worked in Gladhill’s Drug Store, just like I did. He preached from the pulpit in Dyer First United Methodist Church, just like I did. As I stand here today, I want to cry.

So, as we are taught to do, in moments of pain and hurt, we turn to our Lord in order to understand the emotions we feel, in order to surrender those feelings to him for his glory, in order to live our lives like his as much as we are able. And in the scriptures, we find that when Jesus came and found his beloved friend, Lazarus, dead, Jesus wept. He wept because it hurt him to see his friend dead and he wept because, after all they’d seen him do, even his dearest friends still didn’t completely understand who he was, Christ, the Son of God. Jesus wept, and so can we.

But Jesus didn’t stop with just weeping. Jesus did what only Jesus can do. After he finished, he prayed, and then he called Lazarus from the grave. "Arise, Lazarus, and come out!" Jesus called him forth from the dead and he arose. We know right now that Larry is raised from the dead and living with his Savior in heaven.

But that’s not all we know. Jesus didn’t merely call Lazarus from the dead, he did far more. After Lazarus came out of the tomb, Jesus told the people standing there to remove his bindings and set him free. We know right now that Larry is free from all his earthly bindings, no longer held back by physical pain, free to serve his Lord without any limitations or restrictions.

Yes, it is true that sometimes we, as God’s children, are called upon to suffer as our Lord suffered from the cross. Yet, we have the promise of life eternal and life lived free from any earthly limitations. Romans 8.39 teaches that we are destined to be made into the image of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and that includes many scars, just like the scars Jesus himself bears for our salvation.

Lately, I’ve been studying this spiritual truth Paul is describing when he says, "But if we are to share his glory, then we must also share his suffering." What does it really mean for us to claim kinship with the Son of God?

Well, this much I know. The only person God could trust to bear the cross for our sins was His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. None of us could be trusted to endure it. But we can share with Jesus in redeeming God’s creation when we allow our own sufferings to be used for his glory. Only Jesus could bear the cross, but Larry Pitt could and did endure years of pain and suffering. God trusted Larry to endure this suffering because he knew how deeply Larry loved Him. And I know this, too. Jesus was glorified in Larry’s suffering.

I know this because I have on my computer at home some of the most wonderful, delightful e-mails, forwarded to me by a friend, from Larry. I know because I also have another set of e-mails sent to Larry’s friends by a man named Rick, a true warrior for the Lord. I know that Larry’s suffering glorified Christ Jesus because the love these men, and their friends, shared for our Lord is plain to see in every line.

Right now, there are men and women across the world who have seen our Lord and come to know his love…because God chose to trust Larry to bear a cross—because Larry bore it with honor. God trusted Larry to bring this special message, only he could share, to all of us. And Larry proved worthy of God’s trust. Let us praise God for His wisdom and love.

Today we are going to bury Larry. It’s time to let go, and we will. But we can let go today, and leave this place with joy in our hearts because we know we will be reunited with Larry again in heaven! Larry bore his cross for the glory of our Lord. May we also be filled with His Holy Spirit and given the power to do the same.

Let us pray: