I Would Like to Invite You to a Memorial Service


The pastor of my church often shares the following analogy when he preaches a funeral. These are not his exact words, but rather a compilation of what I recall him saying at various funerals, mingled with my own thoughts. My apologies to Pastor Terry if I have misrepresented his words. I don’t believe I have misrepresented his intent.

“A funeral is like a window. Imagine that you are toiling day after day in an office high in a tall building. It is a spacious office, and it has a large window covered with blinds. You keep your head down and do your work diligently. You are productive. Days, weeks, and months go by with you coming and going from that office, doing the work of each day. You are so intent on your tasks that you never have time, nor even think, to open the blinds. Then, one day you rise from your work, walk over and pull the blinds open. What unfolds before you is a breathtaking view - the city below, and mountains rising in the distance. It is a panorama of brilliant sunshine illuminating a world that shouts of beauty and hope and meaning. It stops you in your tracks. For a few long moments your life gains new perspective as you gaze out at the wide world beyond the four walls of your office. You take a deep breath and let out a long sigh. Perhaps you reflect on how brief life is and think about what really matters to you, beyond the project waiting on your desk. That is what we do at a funeral. We step away from the hurry and work and mundane of our lives, and we look out the window. We gaze for a few moments at eternity and think about the things that matter most in the end.”

Recently, I watched Elisabeth Elliot’s memorial service that was held in July at Wheaton College. As a result, I have been standing at the window. Elisabeth is one of my heroes of the faith. Her writings shaped my early spiritual development, and have continued to feed my faith through the years. I often return to read Elisabeth when I know I need reminders of God’s faithfulness and complete trustworthiness. Her mantra, “Suffering is not for nothing” has buoyed me at many crucial junctures of life. The service is poignant, inspiring, and even humorous. There are stories of Elisabeth’s faith and influence from those who knew her best, and it gives those of us who felt like we knew her greater insight into the things that made her such a resilient and profound voice. I would like to invite you to take some time to stand at the window and watch the memorial service. It can be found here on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSi3mR9GQIE Note: The service is 2hrs and 45 minutes long and includes a lot of special music by grandchildren as well as congregational singing of numerous old hymns of the faith. If you prefer not to watch the entire service, I have listed below the segments (they are each short) that are, in my opinion, the most rich and wonderful. If you only have time for one, listen to Joni Eareckson Tada. Personally, I thoroughly loved listening to all the old hymns. Above all, I felt urged forward to live well for Him.

  • Video, Younger brother, Dr. Thomas Howard, speaking at her funeral a month earlier than the memorial service 1:14-1:20
  • Peter Devries, nephew of Elisabeth 1:20-1:28
  • Walter Shephard, son-in-law 1:28-1:40
  • Joni Eareckson Tada 1:40-1:58
  • Valerie Shephard, daughter, 2:02-2:16
  • Video looking back at Elisabeth’s life 2:17-2:32