Saturday, July 11, 2009

Memorial Services

Yesterday I went to a memorial service for a friend's mother, AMP. She had just turned 92 when she died, and up to the week she got sick, was continuing to create beautiful things for her church Vacation Bible School. You can be sure that at 92 she no longer had kids or grandkids who were participants, thus driving her involvement. No, she simply had a talent to offer and did so.

I didn't know her well, but I remember seeing her at our Community Bible Study class. Most mornings we begin with a time of corporate worship in the small sanctuary. She would wait patiently, visiting with those who visited with her, and once the music began, would sing along. Not stuck in the past with traditional hymns, she also enjoyed the contemporary Christian music we sang. One might argue that at her age, she had every right to sit back and wait to be served by others. But AMP knew one of the secrets of life. As we serve others, we stay alive! As we give, we stay connected!

This memorial service was a celebration, for this lady was a believer in Christ, so everyone who celebrated there who also believes in Christ know where she is today. Probably directing art projects for the mansion with many rooms!

I contrast her dignified passing and celebration with the media circus that surrounded Michael Jackson's death. True, a celebrity (which Michael was) will necessarily receive coverage in proportion to his perceived importance by the media. And Michael was the consummate showman, so he would probably have approved of the sound and light extravaganza. But sadly, Michael died as he had lived -- surrounded by the trappings of success and excess, with few he could trust. Many came to laud him at the service, many performed (and I'll be less than cynical and hypothesize they did it in tribute rather than for their own needs). However, were there any lessons people took away from it? Was anyone truly inspired by it to live differently?

The whole time I knew her, AMP's daughter regularly went to take her mother wherever she needed to go. Despite AMP not always being the kindest person to her daughter, my friend loved her mother and showed it through her continuous actions of faithful service. It didn't matter if the woman was caustic, my friend just loved...And when AMP got sick, my friend and her brother dropped everything they were doing, and just came to be with their mom. Period. Nothing else mattered than that AMP was not alone.

The priest yesterday spoke about that -- how these days our busy lives mean that we have to 'fit in' a parent or grandparent death around our schedule, and how he admired what my friend and her brother had done. And this is another way in which AMP's service differed from Michael Jackson's. It was very inspiring. As AMP gave, as her children gave and continue to give to others, we see a pattern in which others matter more than self. Rather than wrapping ourselves in our wounds and hurts, to reach out and give to others is the liberation we seek!

I am resolved to love more -- especially those who do their darndest to be unlovable! I am resolved to forgive more -- especially to those who do things that the world would call unforgivable. And I am resolved to speak with my Creator more, and get His advice on how to serve others.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with you on this, but I also think that in MJ's own way and his family's own way it was inspiring to him and them. He was so different. I just hope he can RIP and maybe, just maybe, his family can be inspired someway with all of this :)