Sermon for the Burial Service of Dan Schmidt
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Morris Funeral Home Chapel, Asheville, NC
The Reverend Jeanne Finan
John 14: 1-4
Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s House there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.
We are here today not only to remember
but to truly celebrate the life of Dan Schmidt.
After talking with Dan’s three daughters—Becky, Carolyn and Cheryl—
and with his grandson Ben—
it is very clear that there is much to celebrate about Dan’s life.
First of all, I believe Dan knew that life—each day of it—was a gift.
An incredible amazing gift.
Dan had many impressive accomplishments—
A successful career as an engineer,
A second career working with his wife in their antiques store
Dan’s grandson Ben, summed it up well when he said,
“Dan was a really good man. He raised three wonderful daughters.”
Dan was also blessed with 51 years of sharing his life with Carolyn,
his late wife, the mother of those three wonderful daughters.
And his wife, those three daughters,
along with Mike, Larry and Nick—
the sons-in-law that later joined their family--
and grandson Ben--
they held Dan’s heart.
He loved his family
and they always came first.
We are here to also celebrate Dan’s generous spirit.
He never said no to someone in need—
even though perhaps a few times, so I am told,
no might have been the better answer.
Dan might have been the strong, silent type—
but his heart was wide with love.
Today is Dan’s 79th birthday.
How could we not celebrate his life today?
July 6---the day that Dan came into this world.
July 6—the day we are celebrating Dan’s life
And commend his body and soul into the arms of God.
How can we not celebrate?.
That does not mean it is not hard to lose someone we love.
It is very hard.
And those of you who sit here this afternoon with absolutely broken hearts,
have some hard work ahead of you.
That hard work is the work of grieving.
It takes time. It takes energy.
It also takes enormous trust.
Trusting that God does prepare a place for each one of us.
Trusting that Dan is at peace and in paradise.
Trusting that death does not have the final word.
That does not mean you will not miss him.
You will, indeed, miss that “big guy.”
You’ll miss his jokes, his sly sense of humor.
You’ll miss being able to call him and talk with him on the telephone.
Today we celebrate that Dan has left all pain and suffering behind now.
But he has not left you behind.
Those we love are always with us.
That is the gift of resurrection.
Just as God’s presence and Spirit are with us always,
the presence of those we have deeply loved also with us.
Every Sunday in the Episcopal church,
as part of the Eucharistic prayer,
we say these words:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
That is the story of Jesus.
It is the story that tells us that death is not the end.
Because love does not die.
We can continue to celebrate Dan Schmidt’s well-lived life
by remembering that each day is a gift.
Each day we are given an opportunity that will never come again.
A chance to love God
with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind.
A chance to love one another.
A chance to believe in something bigger and wider
and deeper than ourselves.
A chance to discover heaven here on earth.
Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me…. I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.