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Lynnette Prater Funeral Sermon
October
2, 2017

 

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Family and friends of Lynette Prater: may the grace, mercy and peace of God our father be with us today and in the days to come to give us comfort and strength, in the name of his son, our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; Amen.

First of all, I need to share with all of you a word of thanks from Lynette’s mom, Bonnie, and her brother, Mike; her children Trevor and Logan, and her husband Dave. They want to thank all of you for your generous expressions of love and care shown to them during this time of grief and loss. It is staggering the number of people a person like Lynnette touches in her life, and they are overwhelmed by the magnitude of your kindness. My family and I stood in line for well over an hour last night to pay our respects, and I know the amount of love and support shown to them. Thank you, it means more than you know.
I have a feeling Lynnette meant more to a lot of people that she would ever know. I have to be honest with you, I have served as Lynnette’s pastor for a little over 13 years now, and for the first 5 years I am not sure we shared more than 20 words together total! The biggest interaction that we would have was shaking hands as she and other worshipers were leaving church. When asked, she always said she was doing good. When she wasn’t teaching a Sunday school unit, she was sitting in the lobby area of our church building with the other parents over cups of coffee and tea together as they shared the stories of what their kids were into those days. The relationships with those church families were special ones, fitting right alongside the relationships she had with neighbors, school families and, of course, scout and band parents. If you didn’t already know, family was the biggest part of Lynnette’s life. She was so involved in the lives of her boys – motherhood was indeed a vocation for Lynnette, a calling from God to use her gifts to benefit the world.

I know that these last five years have been filled with struggle and illness. Sometimes we get lulled into a sense that this is the way that life was intended to be. Dave shared with me the other day that as he looked over older pictures, he had forgotten how much Lynnette had changed in her appearance – little things like the loss of eyebrows or eyelashes even; her loss of weight and her complexion; her loss of energy. As it happens over time, we get used to it – it becomes the new normal. But my message to you today is that this was not the normal that we celebrate and remember Lynnette with today or in the days to come.

No, the normal for her is the young, vibrant, full of life woman who always had a smile on her face (even over these last 5 years), who sometimes made you work to get a word out of her mouth, but who truly enjoyed life. Her motto was, “What are we doing next?” She could rarely sit still, and her family has grown in their relationships with her and with each other because of all of those rich experiences they had with her.
I would say that Lynnette had some favorite places to spend time in life. At her uncle’s farm in Wellington, on the water, skiing with her parents and brother from sun-up to sun-down, helping with the PTA at Goshen Elementary, teaching Sunday school or VBS at Clinton Heights Lutheran Church, working in the Sugar Shack at Gahanna football games, being around kids who knew her as “Aunt-Nette or Net-Nette,” and of course, the Magic Kingdom of Disney. Lynnette was all about everything Disney, from the movies to the music to her trips to the parks, to hanging out with the Disney Divas and keeping them from getting into too much trouble. All of these places and people brought Lynnette such joy in life, and they were the places and people that God put into her life so that she could experience the fullness of God’s joy. They were gifts and blessings to Lynnette from the God who claimed her at her baptism way back on April 13 of 1966 at First United Methodist Church in Wellington, Ohio. From that time on, God promised to walk with Lynnette in the good times and in the bad, to share and multiply her joys, and to comfort and ease the pains and struggles. God’s relationship with Lynnette was based on pure grace – the grace of a loving and generous God who only wanted the best for this one who he called, “Beloved child” in her baptism. And she was confident in God’s love, loving God back with all of her heart, primarily as she loved all of you, her closest family members and friends.

But the closest people in her life were definitely you, Dave, Trevor and Logan. You all were so special to her, and she dedicated her life to all of you. Most of us knew a gentle lady, small in stature who would never say a crass or loud word about anything. But you knew a feisty little lady who had a stubborn streak a mile wide! You knew a wonderfully strong and independent woman who could be described by William Shakespeare’s words in, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – “And though she be but little, she be fierce!” You knew a quietly strong child of God who was confident in the love that Jesus had for her, in the love that she shared with you, and in the gifts and abilities that God gave her to share with the world. A quietly strong woman who overcame the doubts and questions about Dave and finally made that call to set up their first date … despite their substantial height difference! These are the things that you are called upon to remember today, including her strength and courage to fight against an enemy that takes few prisoners, confident in the healing power of her Lord to finally overcome it with the power of love.

This is a time to remember Lynnette in her strength and vitality of life; it is also a time to look to the future. Lynnette could not be healed as we know healing here, even with the advances of our medical technology, so God healed her as no earthly science could. In the mystery of eternal life, we know that Lynnette rests peacefully as she awaits the final day of resurrection when we are all raised to new life in Jesus; and at the same time, she is somehow in the presence of Jesus and God and all of the saints, sharing some kind of communion relationship until we all join together in new, resurrected life.

Even with that promise, there is one thing that I have to address because it is on all of our minds: it really sucks that such a good, strong woman died so young, with so much time left to enjoy her family and friends. Let’s be honest about things right now, and let’s tell God our honest feelings. The Bible is filled with people telling God how they feel about their situation, whether it was because of an illness or loss or exile or whatever. Those people are the ones who we admire for their faithfulness as well as their honesty in talking with God. Telling God you are angry – and that you are angry with HIM – does not indicate a lack of faith, but a frustration with the fact that evil still exists in the world, and that evil sometimes seems to win in very real ways. We will miss Lynnette dearly, and with all of your future events – graduations, weddings, childbirth, etc. – you will wish dearly that she was there to experience them with you. Don’t deny that. Let tears flow – tears are not signs of weakness; tears are signs of love. It is okay to shed them, and I bet you will do that at unexpected times in the next months and years.

But whatever you do – honest, angry words toward God or streams of tears – do it with the confidence that God is with you in it all. The presence of evil is something that God has promised to do something about. God shares you anger and your grief, and God is about the task of defeating sin, death and the devil – and the evil of cancer – through our medical technologies and through the Holy Spirit in ways that we cannot see or know.
Whatever you do, do it with full knowledge that though it may seem that evil has won here, the final chapter of the story has not been written. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, so I share with you – this life is but a temporary affliction. We are being prepared for an eternal weight of glory, the likes of which we have never seen. When we are all raised, we will be transformed into new and perfect beings, perfect in whatever bodies we assume and perfect in our love and relationships with each other.

In the meantime, while we all await that time, we are confident that in the mystery of God’s mercy, Lynnette is experiencing the peace and serenity that no earthly beach ever gives, the feast on the mountain that tops a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, and renewed energy and feistiness to share with all of us when we join her in that place. Thanks be to God for Lynnette’s earthly life and the privilege to be part of it for a short time; And thanks be to God for her newly healed life with Jesus. Amen.