A Sermon Delivered by PETER SIPPEL, at a Graveside Service.
Prepared in Advance by the Author.

This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 4: The 20th Century.

I'll start by welcoming everyone here today for the final interment of our friend **, age 90. I should note that Friends, at least in this branch of the Society, do not have paid and formal ministers to officiate on occasions such as this; ideally our Minister and High Priest is Christ himself, and those who minister do so out of his direct calling and speak in obedience to his leadings.

As we gather on this occasion I believe it safe to say that our hearts go out to the friends and relatives of Ruth Salisbury who have made the trip here today and to those who were not able to be here as well. I believe it appropriate for us to remember and take to heart the words of the apostle Paul to the Christians in Thesalonica, in I Thessalonians 4:13-18:

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Let us take heed to the words of London Yearly Meeting in 1925:

"The faith of Christ is one that teaches more than a courage in face of death. The very character of death is transformed, replacing a gloomy prospect of loss and dissolution by a sense of liberated life. As we come to a more intimate experience of the reality of God we may enter into the overcoming power and strength of the great words of Christ, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." Death is swallowed up in victory, and, for those we love, is no longer a dark place of shadows; but entrance into the fuller light of God.

"Whilst it is natural that we should grieve at the withdrawal of loved friends from our physical sight, we may also rejoice in their new freedom and larger vision. We need to get away from the thought of the dead as lost to us and buried, to realize them as having ever vital part with us in the service Of the Eternal."

I would pray that we who are assembled this morning and not among those who mourn without hope, but that we are among those who mourn knowing the dead in Christ Jesus are untied with their creator in a place where, as it says, "he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:3b-4.)

May we use this occasion to give thanks for ** and to let ourselves be drawn nearer to God.

At this time we will have a period of silent prayer, after which others may speak as they are led by the Spirit of our Lord.