Funeral Sermon for Jack Shirley by kul15652

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									                         Funeral Service for Jack Shirley
Date: October 31, 2009
Place: Lakewood UMC
Texts: Revelations 21:1-6; Psalm 23; John 14:1-7,18-19; Matthew 25:14-23
Theme: Grace; Good and Faithful Servant

      A certain man dies and goes to Heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the
Pearly Gates. St. Peter says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it
into Heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done and I give you a certain
number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100
points, you get in.”
      “Okay,” the man says. “I was married to the same woman for 50 years, and I
never cheated on her, not even in my heart.”       “That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter,
“that’s worth three points.”
      “Three points?” he says, slightly concerned. “Well, I attended church all my
life and supported the ministry with my tithe and service.”       “Terrific!” says St.
Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.”
      “One point?!” he moans, now really getting worried. “I started a soup kitchen
in my city and I worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”        “Fantastic, that’s
good for two more points,” replies St. Peter.
      “Two points! That’s all?!” the man cries. “At this rate the only way I’ll get
into Heaven is by the grace of God.”            St. Peter nods and says, “Bingo, 100
points! Come on in, my son!”
      Jack Shirley will not enter Heaven today, (pause), because of his good works.
We will mention and celebrate many of the good things that Jack has done in his life.
But no one, not even Jack Shirley, receives eternal life because of their good works.
Mother Theresa, Billy Graham or even the pope, not one of them will get into
heaven, because they were good people. You say, “What?! I don’t understand. I
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thought Heaven was the place of reward for being a good person. If Jack Shirley
can’t make it into Heaven, can any of us?”
      The truth of the Gospel that we preach, is that we are saved by grace, through
faith in Jesus Christ. Not by works, lest any man boast. But only in the saving grace
of Jesus Christ do we have any merit in Heaven.
      This runs so counter to the way the world tends to view things, even people in
the church may be confused. We generally tend to think that God has a balance
sheet, and He looks at all your good deeds and at all of your bad deeds, and if the
good out-weighs the bad, then He’ll let you into Heaven. Wrong! This way of
thinking is wrong.
      While it is true that our God is a God of justice, and there will one day, be a
day of reckoning, our God is also a God of mercy and grace. And in God’s infinite
wisdom, God has determined that there is no amount of good works that would ever
atone for the sin that separates us from Him.
      So God decided to bridge the gap that divides Heaven and humanity, coming
to earth in the form of a man. We know that man to be Jesus of Nazareth. God has
declared that the death of His Son Jesus is to be the atoning price for entrance into
the Kingdom of God. We don’t earn it, we receive it. It is a free gift.
      Hear this, my friends, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. It is
God’s desire that every single person come back into perfect communion with God
the Father. God doesn’t send any of His children to Hell. God has provided the way
for all to come home. It is a free gift, the gift of salvation. But we must receive it, in
order to have it.
      And to all who receive, they are adopted into the family of God and will
receive the full inheritance of the Kingdom of God. Christ Jesus is the first-born of
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the new creation. We are his siblings, the heirs of God’s inheritance.
         All that belongs to Christ, belongs to us. We are his brothers and sisters.
Heaven is our home, which we receive by faith. Jack Shirley will not enter Heaven
today because of his good works, but rather, because of his faith in the Lord Jesus.
So what then do we say about these good deeds of Jack Shirley? He was a good man.
         Jack not only said the words, “I believe,” he lived the words. He put his faith
into action. His was not a faith merely of ideas, agreeing to certain doctrines and
nodding his head and saying, “Yeah, I believe in God,” but then living for himself.
The sum total of his being reflected a life of living in relationship with God.
         Not trying to earn the Father’s love, but showing his love back to the Father
by his faithful living. His good works were the result of his love for the Lord, not his
attempt to earn the Father’s love. Jack was saved by grace, just as you and I. In his
faithfulness to God, Jack reflected a deep and abiding relationship with the Lord
Jesus.
         Today we give thanks for that life, and we celebrate his faith and his life. It
was my great pleasure to spend a couple of hours with Jack’s family on the night that
he went to glory. For two solid hours I listened to story after story being told by
those who loved him and knew him best. We have lost a good man, and Heaven is
richer.
         Where do we begin to celebrate this man’s life? Perhaps with his family. Jack
and Jean Shirley have been married for 53 years. They were so in love, even after all
those years. You could see it in their eyes, you could see it in the way they talked and
in the way they touched. His grandson, RJ, told me that when he thinks about getting
married, his grandfather is his role-model, because he saw so much love and faithful-
ness in his grandparents marriage.
         His children told me that he was the best dad in the world. Maybe all children
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say that about their parents, when they’re five or six. But what a testimony when the
children are now adults, and still say that about mom and dad. His sister claims that
Jack was the best brother in the world. His sisters in law and brothers in law all say
wonderful things about this man. What wonderful families memories you have.
      We could talk about Jack’s service to his country, when he served in the US
Army during the Korean War. He was in the Aviation Maintenance Battalion in
England. He was recognized for his honorary service.
      You could talk about Jack’s work ethic, how he worked for the Lord
Corporation for 41 years before retiring in 1992. Faithful, dedicated, hardworking,
respected: That’s Jack Shirley.
      Today we would be remiss if we did not talk about his community service and
his involvement in so many community organizations, not merely participating, but
holding leadership offices. Jack was a member of Perry-Keystone Lodge No. 392
F&AM Scottish Rite Bodies, Valley of Erie. He was a member of the Zem Zem
Temple Shrine, where he was a member for 50 years, and Past President of the
Directors Staff.
      He was a 25 year honorary fireman with West Lake Fire Department. He was
a member of the Erie Aquarium Society and he volunteered at the Shriners Hospital
where he repaired wheelchairs. He was also an usher at the Erie Playhouse.
      Jack was an active member of this church. He served as an usher for 50 years.
He was a trustee, a building committee chairperson and former church treasurer. He
was always in the kitchen, helping with dinners and running the dishwasher. He
taught many how to do dishes in the basement of this church.
      One of the highest compliments I heard paid to Jack, was also given to his
wife Jean. One of our members, this week, in remembering Jack said, “If I had to
pick a Mr. and Mrs. Lakewood, a couple that truly represented the spirit and the
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heart of our church, it would be Jack and Jean Shirley.” Jack was a role model. As
children and youth grew up in this church, they looked up to Jack Shirley. Not
because he was an intimidating force to be reckoned with, but because of his gentle
service to the Lord, and to others.
      Now, with all of those accomplishments, you might think that Jack never had
time to play. Wrong. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and gardening. I heard some
wonderful stories about hunting camp, how Jack would not only make some good
food to eat for the guys, but he would serve several course meals, every day of camp.
These guys came home several pounds heavier, because of Jack’s cooking. I’m told
that Jack Shirley made chili to die for. He was a good cook, and he loved to share
that talent with friends and family.
      He was indeed a good friend. The restaurant known as Taki’s will be a little
quieter and a little more empty, without the presence of one Jack Shirley. I could tell
you many stories about this man’s life, there are many. And I hope that we will share
a few of them now, and a few more later, over lunch. These memories are precious.
      Jack, when all is said and done, hear these words of our Lord and Savior,
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.” Amen.




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