It’s very difficult to bury your brother – especially when he’s not a believer. In fact, he rejected God.
We grew up in a Catholic church. While I left the Catholic Church and joined an evangelical church, after Greg left home, he never went to church again – except for weddings, funerals, and the occasional Christmas.
I was assigned the task to speak in church about my brother, mainly because the Ukrainian Catholic church my mother attends – and where the funeral was – has a new priest directly from Ukraine, one who doesn’t know Greg and who cannot speak much English.
The turnout was huge. Greg was gregarious and well-loved – a ski patrolman, a biker (Harley Davidson, not bicycle), a veteran of the Coast Guard, an adventurer, a multimedia graphic designer in a large company where he and I worked in the same department – and a loving dad. So this is what I said to the congregation today:
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…and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. - Ecclesiastes 12: 7
We are gathered here to remember my brother, Gregory. Greg was a devoted father. From the moment that his son Luke came into this earth, Greg doted on him. Luke wasn’t like other children; he had special needs, and special needs required extra sacrifice on the part of the parents. Greg never complained about this turn of fate. Not once. He adored Luke, doted on him, and simply glowed whenever he talked about his son. Since Greg and I worked together for the same department, Greg would come to my office quite often and share stories about Luke – how Luke had a cough and how worried he was that the cough might go to his lungs. How Luke had finally learned to crawl. Then taken his first steps – but not at a year like most children; he was much older. Or Greg would describe how Luke laughed with delight when Greg would play the guitar for him. He described Luke’s teachers in Kindergarten or told me how good the other classmates were to him. Greg could mimic Luke’s giggles and squeals. He talked about getting him hearing aids. Braces for his legs. A special walker. There was nothing that Greg wouldn’t have done for his son.
Our Father in heaven loves us even more than Greg loved Luke. But how many of us return that love? Do we just think about Him once a week on Sunday mornings? Or perhaps not even that often? I think that if Greg could speak to us today, he would tell us that this is the most important relationship – our relationship with Jesus Chris, our redeemer – to work on while here on earth.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. – John 6:63