This is presented to possibly help some young preacher get through the ordeal of having to preach a funeral for a close friend. Your faith and hope will allow you to do so with confidence.
I had asked for some help from other preachers who had gone through this and some sent me some outlines. This is compiled from several sources.
Sylvia Mae Rich
(With a smile on her face)
I feel that I should be over on that side of the room today sitting in the family section. Sylvia Rich had a way to make everyone feel like family.
With every birth comes an appointment with death. (Heb. 9:27).. "And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." It is a fact that all of us will suffer death. Every child and adult here today will someday come face to face with death. What we do with our lives here while living here on earth will determine that state of eternal destination at the judgment. The Bible says that the dead will be resurrected and then face the judgment.
(John 5:28,29) "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment."
(2 Corinthians 5:10) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
This will be the next step for our departed sister and loved one .. Sylvia Rich. This earthen body, which will soon be placed into the ground, is all that remains in the physical realm. Her spirit is already gone.
It was said that a famous preacher was heard to say in a funeral sermon about the body being emptied, that he used the poor example of a pecan. He said "all we have left is an empty shell, the nut is gone". Sylvia loved that one
(Ecl 12:7) .. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
We are here not to mourn the loss of a loved one but to rejoice that she has run her race .. and her reward awaits her in the resurrection of the dead. Let us gain comfort from the blessed truth that to the Christian, death can be a precious thing.
Psa 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord,
Is the death of His godly ones"
Why? Because Christians have hope. 2 Tim 4:6-8;
1 Thes 4:13
Because death is the end of troubles, trials, pain, sorrow, and fear. Rev 21:4
Because the faithful Christian will have a new body.
Who was Sylvia Rich? A wife .. a mother .. sister .. grandmother .. great grandmother .. aunt .. a sister in the Lord and not to be left out .. a good friend. Many are the words it would take to describe really who she was. I would sum it all up and just say in the words of King Lemuel .. (Prov 31:10-31)
An Excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She rises also while it is still night,
And gives food to her household,
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She extends her hand to the poor;
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her saying;
"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all"
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord,
She shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.
1. That is who Sister Sylvia Rich was...
II. An Example Has Been Left For Each Of Us Whose Lives She Touched.
A. She was faithful in her responsibilities as a Mother.
1. She set the example even in her later years. if she was able .. you could find her in attendance at church ... third row, left side, next to her husband.
B. She always had a big smile .. a friendly greeting .. and she had a powerful grip in giving handshakes.
1. When you visited with her, she was always thrilled to see you. Maybe she even complained a little when time came to leave.
C. Visiting with her, she wanted me to pray with her. Never did I hear that she wanted me to pray for her. She did ask me to pray for Presley and her family.
1. She made an impression on me in my nine years at Greenwood Village Church of Christ.
2. She was an example for faithful living. An example to fear God and look to him for comfort and guidance.
D. I trust that each family member will hold the memories of many years and lean upon them for strength of this "Wonderful Lady."
1. She loved her Lord .. and told me that she was ready to go home to be with her Lord.
2. I believe she is in "Paradise" this very moment ... she has "captured" her desires. She is the envy of all faithful Christians.
III. What About You And Your Example In Life?
A. As a parent or grandparent; you have responsibilities to your children.
Teach them well the truth of the gospel.
(2 Tim 2:15) "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth"
Is there anyone present today whom Sylvia did not try to teach?
Encourage them and yourself daily in the ways of the Lord.
Didn't Sylvia have the courage and guts to tell you that you were wrong in your current lifestyle? Did she not warn you what is in store for you as you face eternity's night?
Learn to set the right example before others by your righteous living. The finest example you can place before anyone is to be a Christian. Can anyone say that Sylvia did not set an example as a Christian? Can anyone say that she did not let her light shine?
Sylvia did all she could with the knowledge she had to place this example before you.... she did it very well.
IV. To The Family Of This "Noble Woman".
A. Love one another .. set your goals high (very high) .. be diligent to attain those goals. You had better, if you want to see her again.
B. Put your trust in God ... He will never fail you.
D. The memories you each have and those you shared with your loved ones should be the most precious gift anyone could ever receive ... Hold them within your hearts forever and her life and her love will never depart from you.
1. Sylvia Rich lived a hard yet faithful life ... she loved her family and friends. But, most of all she loved her Lord ... her life was not in vain.
3. Look around at the lives she touched ..... this was a life worth living ... she was a friend worth knowing ... she will be missed.
V. We Now Must Say Our Last Good-byes To This One Who Loved You In the same way that God and Christ love you; Unconditionally, and Just As You Are In The Hope That You Will Become As She Is Now.
(Conclude with a prayer).
Carey Scott, Evangelist
Greenwood Village Church (TX)