Many thanks to Charlie Martin of Erlanger Christian Church for sharing the meditation he prepared for Papa’s funeral, which follow:
The first 8 verses of Ecclesiastes 3 remind us of God’s presence in the entirety of life … to everything there is a season and a purpose.
Wherever we might find ourselves … can be found within God’s ultimate concept and plan for time.
Oscar Smith was an amazing well-read student of the Bible.
Oscar would indeed sense the simple logic to these verses.
But Oscar’s life taught us the message from Ecclesiastes isn’t crowned at verse 8.
Oscar’s life provides us the meaning of verse 9 (READ).
What gain has the worker from his toil?
The gain … from hard work ?
Oscar knew the answer to that question.
Hard work is what we are supposed to be doing with our lives.
God placed us in the great parameters of time and provided for all seasons and every activity so that we can work … so that we can help and be a servant to others!
What gain has the worker from his toil?
Our gain is realized by helping others in God’s world.
By working we make good use of our time.
If you knew Oscar … if you got to know Oscar … if Oscar got to know you … working in service to others was very likely involved.
I met Oscar on the 2nd day my family moved to Kentucky when he arrived at our house a full hour before the rest of the folks from the church.
Oscar came to do the grunt work of taping and putting down plastic drop cloths so that when others came … the work could be done.
Yard work, volunteering at United Ministries … mission projects … working in flooded churches … teaching Sunday school … working on the property committee … helping at church camp … folding newsletters and bulletins before we had a folding machine … Oscar believed that if there was work to be done … do it … preferably his way … but do it.
If this work helped others … all the better !
As we gather to remember and celebrate his exemplary life I think Oscar would want us to make good use of our time this day … there’s work to be done.
______ & _______ are now going to pass out Sunday’s bulletins and the insert that needs to go inside.
There’s work to be done.
The Oscar way … “the right way” will be to place the Call to Worship Side face up … that would come before Erlanger Heritage Day!
When you’re done … pass them to the center aisle … we’ll get them later.
Let’s get to work! You don’t want Papa to give you a thump on the head!
The other day I heard one member of Oscar’s family refer to the countless positive ripples in the pond that Oscar’s life has made and will continue to make.
We might rephrase it to say “ripples in the CREEK” … because going to the creek was so much a part of his life journey.
He loved being there … he loved taking other people there.
There were only 2 rules.
#1: If you go the creek … the work gets done before the fun starts.
And 2nd you can’t go the creek if you’re not potty-trained!
Whether at family gatherings … whether he brought a church dinner to attention by whistling … if you were blessed to sit on his lap as he read you “Brer” Rabbit … or spent the night at his house … which meant you moved Mary Jane out of the bed because you got to sleep in Papa’s bed … whether he came to your classroom at school and told living history lessons … whether you passed him on the street … whether you had the privilege of “eating high on hog” with him … whether you were present on one of the rare occasions when Oscar was brought to tears … Oscar Smith was someone that you would respect … that you’d keenly listen to … that you might even want to grow up to be like.
An accurate dictionary beside the word “MENTOR” should have a picture of Oscar in a hat, a flannel shirt, suspenders and walking stick with the caption “Where you at?”
Seeing and being around Oscar was a teaching lesson … if you wanted to want to learn how to break rocks … pull weeds … paint a room … mow a lawn.
In a brief sentence he could impart his wisdom on evangelism … when he’d say: the church doors ain’t locked on Sundays! … Come on in!
This past Monday, Oscar took the next step on his journey of life and faith.
It was a step he was prepared to take for a long time.
I will always remember calling him on the phone one day … I asked him how he was doing. He said: “Pretty good, I’m just waiting to die!”
That was almost 2 years ago!
What gain has the worker from his toil?
Oscar Smith toiled as a faithful, selfless worker on this earth for some 94 years.
II Timothy 4: 7 – I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Those words have never been spoken to depict someone more accurately than when spoken about Oscar Smith.
The faith that Oscar kept assures us that has continued his journey to his mansion prepared for him by his Lord and Savior.
It likely resembles a cabin with a rocking chair on the porch and a creek nearby.
Likely it’s not warm enough to suit Oscar.
There he is reunited with Mary Jane and a host of friends and fellow saints of the faith.
The only questions left for us to ponder:
“Will Oscar find work that needs to be done?”
“And how soon will he look down and hear a hymn … and be brought to tears?
One thing is certain … Oscar would tell us:
“There’s still work for us to do … “where you at?”
Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.
Rest in peace … Oscar.
Let us pray.
In the stillness of this place we turn to you O God who is the creator , sustainer and provider of life on this earth and life everlasting. We reverence we gather to celebrate and thank God for the life among us of Oscar Smith. We come in the spirit of faith that assures us that neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, can separate us from the love of God we know in Christ Jesus our Lord who taught all his disciples to pray … Our Father …
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING AND HOPE
Ever-present and gracious God, your steadfast love endures forever … your faithfulness to all generations.
We trust in your Word … we seek to be hugged by your strong arms of grace in our moments of grief and loss.
Speak to our hearts and surround with words of comfort and calm.
Touch each one of us with the hope we find in our faith in thee that our lives on this earth are but a part of the journey to everlasting life with thee.
We thank you for the strong, full life lived among us in Oscar Smith.
For the lessons of caring and serving others he taught by word and constant example we are grateful.
Strengthen us that the tears we shed in these days may become tears of joy for the many ways Oscar stirred us, guided us, and loved us.
With the confidence that our Resurrection faith provides we entrust Oscar into your everlasting Kingdom.
May his walking stick now guide him down heaven’s paths to the mansion prepared for him and Mary Jane by their Lord and Savior, who lived and died and lives again so that we might know even abundant life. Amen.
Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy … and my burden is light.
O Lord, thou has been our dwelling place in all generations. From everlasting to everlasting thou art our God and we are thy children. We come seeking thy comfort, yearning for thy presence of strength and love. We praise your name for we know you are fulfilling our every need in each moment of each day. As we commit the body and soul of thy faithful servant Oscar Smith unto you … help us amidst our pain and sorrow to realize life anew in Christ Jesus who lived and died and rose from the grave to bring unto us the reality of everlasting life. Amen.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.
May this amazing grace, bring you peace, both now and forever more. Amen