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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Deuteronomy 34:1–12

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses. Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (NRSV)

Being a church organist I hear more than the average share of eulogies at memorial services, probably thirty to forty each year. Some are for the famous; many for the not so famous. Most are heartwarming tributes given by friends or family of the deceased person, sometimes with amusing stories; often with tears and occasionally even laughter. What always strikes me is when it is clear that the deceased person really touched someone’s life; that they lived a life full of joy, energy, and passion dedicated to serving others around them. It is always inspiring to hear stories of how the person was a force of positivity all around and devoted their energy to causes larger than themselves. These are the eulogies that are so inspiring for everyone. But sadly, I remember one memorial service in which several people gave eulogies with only one consistently good thing to say about the deceased person, what good hair they had. I’m sure the deceased person had other positive attributes, but the most memorable and significant memory was simply the good hair.

Abraham Lincoln wrote “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

What will people say at your eulogy? Is the life you are living right now the one you would want someone to remember in a eulogy? Every day is an opportunity to become a bright beam of light for good in this world, a beam of light illuminating truth and justice, sharing gifts of beauty and energy. Every day we can encourage someone, make something better; be a force for positive change. Mary Oliver asked in her poem Summer Day, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” How will you respond today?

O God, help me live this life to serve you and my neighbor at all times and in all things. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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