Monday, April 17, 2017

Sermon Preached at the Memorial Service for Genevieve Meyer

Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Saturday, April 15, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. It was part of the memorial service for our sister in Christ, Genevieve Meyer who entered immorality on April 12. You can find a podcast of the entire service on the Cove Podbean page. 

You know, I think it's really interesting how God works. Let me tell you what I mean. Every morning, as I'm getting ready for work, I listen to the ESPN radio station out of Indianapolis on my phone. Now, usually it's just sort of background noise as I eat breakfast and scramble Maggie an egg and take care of the dog before I drive my daughter to school. And even though she was off on Friday, I still turned on the radio; I guess it's just a habit. 

But I'll tell you, I'm really glad I did. You see, as I assume most people around here know, Dan Rooney, the owner of the Steelers, passed away this past Thursday. And so, on a show called Mike and Mike, they were talking about Mr. Rooney. And they had some people who knew him, including Tony Dungy, a guy who not only played for Pittsburgh, but who got his first coaching job with the Steelers. And when they asked him for one word that could sort of sum up who Dan Rooney was, Coach Dungy said, "Devoted." You see, for him, that's the one word that best described this man, because he was devoted to the Steelers and to the NFL and to the City of Pittsburgh. 

And you know, it's really interesting; when he said that, the very first thing I thought about was how well that word describes our sister Genevieve. I mean, she was truly devoted, but I think y'all know that. And I think you can see that devotion kind of going out in at least three very definite directions. 

For example, she was devoted to her communities, and there's a reason I said communities rather than community. Now, after talking with Paula yesterday, I know that Gen wasn't what you'd call a club-joiner, but that didn't mean that she wasn't involved in the world around her.  My goodness, I don't think it would be possible to find many people more devoted to WVU football and to the band; now tell me that's not a community. And even though I believe happy is another good word to describe her, I think some of y'all saw another side if her view of either that team or band was blocked. And if you're talking about the Weirton, Cove Presbyterian Church was Gen's organization of choice. And whether it involved working in the clothes closet here at the church or sitting in her pew with Marie and Virginia and Betty and Susie, Genevieve was always here, even though it was usually Joe who brought her. And you know, it didn't matter that she couldn't always hear what was going on, this was her home. This was her place. I'm telling you, Gen was devoted to her communities. 

Just like she was devoted to her God and her savior, Jesus Christ. And you know, you really can't separate that from her dedication to her church. But what she believed was more than just being a part of a group, a congregation. I mean, her faith wasn't shown just by how she helped folks who were down on their luck or how she was in her pew every Sunday morning; although that was certainly part of it. You see, Gen showed exactly what she believed by who she was and she lived. I mean, it was shown by her generous personality, by the gentle encouragement she offered, and of course, by the compassion and grace she showed to those around her. As y'all know, Gen wasn't the kind of person who needed to talk on and on about what she believed; man, you could see it, you could feel it simply by the life she lived and the love she showed. Genevieve was devoted to her God.

And you know, since we're talking about love, I think everybody here this morning knows that Gen Meyer was totally devoted to her family. Paula, yesterday when we were talking, I was just amazed by how your mom almost dedicated herself to care for her mother and then for her sisters 
and how for years how calling them and being with them was a huge part of her life, something that created a void when they passed. And Susie, what was it that you said about Gen? She was like a second mother to you. And that makes sense, because as Paula said, her nieces and nephews really were her second children. But that didn't take away from love she had for you, Paula, and you know that. And I'll tell you, based on what you shared with me, I think she showed the best kind of love a parent can show their children, because it was the kind of love that encouraged you to make the most of the gifts God had given to you. But of course, the love of her life was Joe, her husband her life partner. The love y'all shared, well, it's the kind they write about it books and that other couples envy, one that stayed young and alive for 57 years. In fact, it like what you said yesterday, Paula, it reminds me of what is says in Genesis. You see, after describing the creation of Eve, the writer talked about the kind of relationship God wanted for men and the women. He wrote, "That's why a man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman, and the two of them become like one person." I don't think there's anything else I can say; that was Gen and Joe, one person. Just like with her communities and her God, Genevieve was absolutely devoted to her family. That's who she was.

And I'll tell you, I think there's a good reason for remembering that this morning. You see, tomorrow, we're celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the single most important event in human history and something that's crucially important for us today. Do you remember what I read from 1 Corinthians? Well, just like Paul wrote about in that passage, the resurrection offers us a glimpse into our future. He called Jesus "the first fruits of the harvest of the dead," and I'll tell you why that's important. You see, he was the first to be raised, but others will follow. And right there's the basis of our hope. Believe me, the day's going to come when, just like Jesus, we're going to be raised, raised into a new heaven and a new earth. In other words, because his tomb was empty, we can believe that so will ours. 

And when that comes, when we enter this new life, Gen's going to be there, maybe blowing a trumpet and leading children banging pots and pans, and she'll greet us with what I always saw as a kind of impish smile. And she'll be there with her mom and with Marie and Vivian and Virginia and Betty and Bud and Floyd. And in this recreated universe, there'll be no more suffering and pain, no more strokes and death, because the former things have passed away. Now that's what's waiting in the future, our future. And in the meantime, and I'm talking about during this period of separation, we can simply trust that, through Jesus Christ, man, this is a done deal, and we can simply remember Genevieve until we see her again. 

Now, I really don't know much about Dan Rooney, that is beyond what I've heard and read. But what I do know is this, that Genevieve Meyer was devoted. She was devoted to the communities in which she had a part. She was devoted to her God and to his people. And she was absolutely devoted to the family that God had given her. Now that's something I do know. But I know something else, because I believe that the tomb was empty and Christ was raised to new life, I know that I'll see her again.

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