We gather today to remember the life and mourn the loss of Lindsay Metcalf Jr. We want to celebrate his life even as we seek to comfort each other in the time of loss.
The Bible speaks words that help us in a time of loss,
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Solomon wrote,
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot
a time to kill and a time to heal
a time to tear down and a time to build
a time to weep and a time to laugh
a time to mourn and a time to dance
a time to scatter stoned and a time to gather them
a time to embrace and a time to refrain
a time to search and a time to give up
a time to keep and a time to throw away
a time to tear and a time to mend
a time to be silent and a time to speak
a time to love and a time to hare
a time for war and a time for peace.
These words from Solomon remind us that life is filled with different seasons. Today we enter one of those hard times; a time of saying good-bye and a time of grief. In this time however, the Apostle Paul reminds us:
If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? . . . What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” [Romans 8]
Today as we gather we are reminded that we are not alone. God is with us. He is our strength and our comfort.
Let’s pray together.
Our Father, we gather today to remember and thank you for the life of Junior Metcalf. We thank you for his character and his example. We also come seeking your help. Give us perspective. Help us to see beyond the grave so that we may not grieve as those who have no hope. Help us to that end, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Lindsay Metcalf Jr. (better known as Junior Metcalf) was born April 13 1918 to Lindsay Sr. and Emma Erbrohdt Metcalf. He married Marjorie Bouquet on December 9, 1939 in Palmyra MO. She passed away July 21, 2007 (17 months ago)
Junior lived all of his married life in the Blandinsville area. He was a farmer, a rural mail carrier and a part time school bus driver. He served on the school board for several years.
Junior died on Tuesday, December 23rd at 7:30 a.m. at the LaHarpe-Davier Healthcare Center in LaHarpe.
He is survived by
one daughter, Sondra (Donald L.) Porter of Blandinsville;
three sons, Dave (Linda) Metcalf of Blandinsville,
Dennis (Sue James) Metcalf of Sciota
and Dane (Jackie) Metcalf of Blandinsville,
eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; three step-great-grandchildren and nine step-great-great-grandchildren.
Junior Metcalf was an influential community member in Blandinsville. He served freely and fully and gave his heart to this community.
Junior was one of the men who donated lots of time and manpower to the building of the golf course here in town. Junior loved to golf, bowl, and hunt. Every year he would go Pheasant hunting in South Dakota with a bunch of the guys.
Junior was a guy who believed in old fashioned values. He was a stern (but fair) father. He took his role as provider for the family seriously and worked hard to make sure that his family had what they needed. Junior was one of those guys who could exert a great deal of discipline on his kids simply by his tone of voice!
Junior was devoted to Marge. They worked together, they played together (they both enjoyed gambling), they traveled together and just simply loved each other.
Junior loved to be involved serving his community. All the things he was involved in were things he did in addition to his farming. He clerked at a bunch of Auctions because he was so good at math. He didn’t need to drive a school bus but he did it because drivers were needed. It was just what he did.
Junior loved football. He was at all the high school football games and even announced the games for 12 years or so. He quit only because Dane was starting to play and he knew he was going to be really into the game and in one sense didn’t want to be distracted by having to announce. He volunteered to haul equipment to away games as his way of helping. It was also a good excuse for going to the away games.
Junior served on the School Board during a very difficult period. It was during this time the school moved out of Blandinsville. Junior never wanted the school to leave town. I don’t know what all the issues were but it was a very trying time. During this time Junior endured threats, hate mail and agonized over the division in the community. I’m not sure, but I think Junior knew that people would disagree on the issue. What made the situation hard was that this disagreement became so personal. I’m sure he was hurt deeply by the fact that some people didn’t think he had the best interest of the community at heart. It was not so much that people questioned the decisions; it was that they questioned his heart and his character. I’m sure there was a part of him that felt he had proved his love and devotion to the community. Unfortunately, many of those wounds never fully healed.
Junior loved to drive. He enjoyed traveling and always wanted to be the one doing the driving. It wouldn’t bother him to drive 500 miles or better in a day. In fairness, in most of those occasions he had the newest car. Junior was constantly trading cars. Marge never knew when Junior was going to come home in a new car. People used to say, “when the ash tray was full it was time for Junior to trade for a new car!”
Speaking of ash trays it should be noted that Junior used to smoke pretty heavy. One day at the bowling alley he sensed he was getting short of breath and decided right then and there that he was going to stop smoking. And that is what he did! Junior could be a little stubborn! Sometimes this stubbornness and determination worked in his favor.
This last year or better was hard for Junior. He was without his partner and it became more and more difficult for him to get around. He moved to the apartments at the Nursing Home but didn’t like the food so he still went out to eat a bunch. When he could no longer get out; when he could not longer drive, he felt he had lost his independence. In his mind his dignity was gone and he just stopped eating. If he could not live life fully he was not much interested in living at all. At the end Junior Metcalf was ready for the journey to end.
It’s too bad that there are not more people like Junior Metcalf in the world. If there was, the world would be a much better place.
In Isaiah 51:12 the Lord said to the prophet Isaiah, “I even I, am He who comforts you.” We long for that sense of God’s comfort today. It is a difficult thing to bury a parent. It is a difficult thing to bury anyone we love. The Bible speaks a great deal about the comfort that God provides for us. I read that the word comfort is found 112 times in the Bible. Here are some of those passages,
- As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
- Be of good comfort.
- Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me …
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(Is. 66:13; Matt. 5:4; Rom. 15:4; 2 Cor. 13:11; Ps. 23:4; Ps. 94:19; 2 Cor. 1:3–4;)
God comforts us in many ways.
First, he comforts us through our family and friends. In times of loss we find ourselves weak, numb, and depending on the suddenness of the loss, we may find ourselves unable to do even basic things. Loss is a shock to the system. In these times the strength of family and friends is a great comfort.
Friends and family bring food, they share stories, and perhaps best of all, they listen. The hugs, the tears, the acts of kindness through a card or note, or the many practical helps remind us that we are not alone.
Let’s be honest, no one enjoys going to a funeral. Most of you are here today because you desire to comfort this family in their time of loss. You are serving as agents of God’s comfort for those who grieve.
The second way God comforts us is through the Bible. The Bible sometimes seems like a dry and dusty book. We pick it up and there are many things we don’t understand. However, if you keep reading it is amazing how relevant the Bible becomes.
There was a woman in Middle Tennessee named Agnes Frazier who began each day for fifty years by reading the Bible with her husband, Emmett. The morning after his passing, Agnes didn’t think she could sit at the breakfast table and read the Bible. But she did, and the text she came to was this verse: I, the Lord, will be a husband to you (Is. 54:5). She smiled and said, “Thank you, Lord.” Such “coincidence” reminds us that God cares.
As you read through the Bible you learn that God is merciful and loving. You learn that Jesus came to earth for the purpose of building a bridge to us. He came to introduce us to God and to make it possible for us to have a relationship with God.
The Bible tells us that even though we have made many mistakes, and even though we have ignored Him in much of our living, we can be forgiven and know intimacy with God, and have the confidence of Heaven because we put our trust and confidence in Jesus. We are told that if we put our trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as a payment for our rebellion and in His resurrection from the dead. . . we too will live even though we die. It is the most comforting promise of all: This life is not all there is. The Bible gives us a comfort that is superior to anything the world can offer.
The third way God comforts us is through the contemplation of Heaven. The Bible tells us about an existence beyond this life that is better and where we are more “alive” than what we currently can grasp.
In his book on heaven, evangelist D. L. Moody quotes an acquaintance as saying: “When I was a boy, I thought of heaven as a great, shining city, with vast walls and domes and spires, and with nobody in it except white-robed angels, who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother died; and I thought of a great city with walls and domes and spires, and one little fellow that I was acquainted with. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then another brother died; and there were two that I knew. Then my acquaintances began to die; and the flock continually grew. But it was not till I had sent one of my little children to his Heavenly Parent—God—that I began to think I had a little of myself already in Heaven. By that time I had so many acquaintances in heaven, that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I began to think of the residents of the celestial city as my friends. And now so many of my acquaintances have gone there, that it sometimes seems to me that I know more people in heaven than I do on earth.”
I do not believe the Bible teaches that everyone goes to Heaven. The Bible teaches that those who put their faith in Jesus Christ go to Heaven. True faith is not measured so much by how often you attend church (though I think that is important). There are many who go to church that don’t seem to have genuine faith in God. There are others who have great faith but are not comfortable in the church. The people of true faith are those who trust Christ and try to live God’s way.
I didn’t know Junior well enough to know which category describes him. God is the one who weighs the heart. God is merciful, loving, and just.
What we do know is that this life is not all there is. When Jesus came triumphantly out of his grave he announced that those who believe in Him “will live even though he die”. We draw comfort from knowing this is not the end for Junior Metcalf. If Junior had faith in Christ, then his death was not the end of his life . . . in some ways it was just the beginning. Though last Tuesday was a day of sadness and loss for us, for Junior last Tuesday was,
- A promotion.
- A release from the burdens of earth.
- A reunion with those he has loved
- Restoration physically with a new freedom and dignity to enjoy life on a much greater level
- A time to feel the embrace of a loving Savior
Tuesday was not a bad day for Junior . . . hopefully it was the best of all days. As we ponder that reality, we find comfort in our own sadness.
I encourage you to look to the Lord for your comfort. Draw from his strength. I also encourage you to share your stories about Junior. Celebrate his life. As you do, let’s try to learn well some of the lessons of Junior’s life,
- Discipline is essential for raising good kids and is foundational to any society
- Serving others is often costly (it can make you a target) but it is still the right thing to do
- Commitment and hard work can produce a great marriage
- It’s always fun to drive a new car
- Stubbornness can be aggravating, but it can also can be a gift that helps you accomplish things others cannot accomplish because they lack that determination
You have been blessed with a solid example of what it means to live a life of character and integrity. It’s a great heritage and one for which you can be very grateful.
Let’s pray together.
Our father, help us to draw on your comfort today. Help us to draw strength from each other, comfort from your Word, and hope from the promise of Heaven. We commit Junior now to you. We ask that you love him and grant him the mercy and the grace which every one of us needs.
I pray for this family and ask you to help them as they remember and as they grieve. Help them to remember not just how Junior died . . . help them to remember how he lived. Fill their minds with long forgotten memories. Help them to recall all the solid lessons he passed on to them. Help them as they seek You. Grant them your comfort and your grace. I ask this all in the name of our risen Lord. Amen.