The funeral service for Rita Mann was yesterday. This has hit my family hard, but it has also hit our church family hard. She was a core member; an integral part of our church family. We loved her dearly at Church Acadiana, and she loved us. In just a short amount of time she made some dear friends at church.
I can see in my mind where she sat on Sunday mornings and during Home Group. I can see Lydia and the kids walking her back to her car down the street after Home Group. I can see her wearing her pink CA Kids volunteer shirt. I can see her big smile as she walked into church every Sunday.
This is probably the first major death that our young church has experienced. There have been other members who have passed away, but none so closely connected and deeply plugged in as Ms. Rita.
So I wanted to take a moment and jot down the four words of encouragement that I mentioned in the funeral service to encourage our church family in this time of loss.
The first word of encouragement is BETTER. Because Ms. Rita is now in a better place. The Bible teaches that the moment a Christ-follower passes away, they wake up in the wonderful presence of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:21-23). We're mourning, but Ms. Rita is rejoicing, because she just got the biggest promotion of her life!
The second word of encouragement is GOD. Because God is going to take care of us. Ms. Rita was a huge asset to our church family. But God is going to provide for us (Phil 4:19; Ps 16:8; Ps 23:1; Mt 6:33). He is going to take care of us. He is going to meet our needs. Ms. Rita has left us in good hands.
The third word of encouragement is EXAMPLE. Because Ms. Rita provided an example for us to follow. Let's not miss this opportunity to learn from Ms. Rita's life. She was a wonderful woman who has a lot to teach us. One of her distinguishing qualities was her joy -- she was always cheerful, positive, and upbeat. What was the source of her joy? First, she walked closely with Jesus, and that leads to overflowing joy (Ps 16:11). Second, she devoted her life to selfless service, and that, too, leads to joy (Acts 20:35).
The third word of encouragement is FAITH. Because Ms. Rita is in heaven today because of her faith in Jesus Christ. Ms. Rita is not in heaven because she was a good person; she would be the first to tell you that she was an undeserving sinner in need of grace. She is in heaven because of her faith in the good work that Jesus Christ did for her on the cross when He died in her place, for her sins, and then rose again (Jn 3:16). She is in heaven because she knew her ABCs. A -- Admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior. B -- Believe in Jesus Christ's death for your sins. C -- Call on Jesus to come into your life to be your Savior and King.