Not long after midnight on August 8, 2011, Bonnie’s mother passed away. Two weeks earlier while Bonnie and I were in Linden, Guyana, South America, Bonnie’s brother Jim tracked us down to inform us that Mary Reed had suddenly taken a turn for the worse and was hospitalized in Meadville, PA; my wife’s 83-year-old mother had been going downhill steadily we could see each time we visited her in the nursing home, but she seemed in fairly stable health in June of this year. However, a team of medical issues besieged her all at once: pneumonia, a mersa staff infection, her kidneys shut down and each time she swallowed food went into her lungs.
We were on our way to see her in the hospital, and I had just preached for two Alabama congregations Sunday, August 7. Bonnie and I lodged in a Bowling Green, KY motel en route to Mary’s bedside, but she died before we arrived the next day. Mary Reed’s funeral was Friday, August 12, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. in Greenville, PA. She was buried in the Rocky Glen Cemetery on a ridge overlooking the Amish community of Atlantic, PA and near Adamsville, PA. Her obituary is as follows:
Mary E. Reed of Cambridge Springs (formerly of Greenville) passed away Monday, August 8, 2011 at 12:30 a.m. in Meadville Medical Center. She was 83 years old. Mrs. Reed was born July 7, 1928 in Adamsville to Hervey Henry and Gladys Hunt Henry. She graduated from Penn High School in 1946, and on September 19, 1947 she married her husband Roy Reed, who preceded her in death in 1982. Mrs. Reed worked most recently at the former Blazon Corp. in Jamestown. Mrs. Reed was a member of the First Church of God in Greenville and past-president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Women’s Auxiliary in Greenville. She also enjoyed bowling, reading, bingo and crafts. Mrs. Reed is survived by two sons, James (Jim) Reed and his wife Sharlene (Kay) of Cochranton, and Larry Reed and his wife Donna of Atlantic; two daughters, Bonnie Rushmore and her husband Louis of Winona, Mississippi, and Dianna Reed and her fiancé Edward Korab, Jr. of Sharon; a brother J. Melvin Henry of Doylestown; a sister Doris Pearce and her husband C. Robert of Greenville; nine grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her parents; her husband; a daughter Colleen Reed; a granddaughter Lisa Reed; and two sisters Madlyne and Dora Henry.
The funeral message was entitled “Appointments” and was as follows:
- The older I get, the more a particular verse of Scripture looms in my memory: Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
- From birth onward, every person marches relentlessly toward his or her departure from the land of the living.
- It’s just a matter of time for each of us, and we all will cross the same threshold from life to death.
- Besides personal observation, and particularly today as we are painfully aware of the comparative brevity of life, Hebrews 9:27 summarizes the path on which each of us finds himself or herself.
I. There is an appointment that none of us can miss though we may want to miss that appointment or at least to delay it as long as possible (Hebrews 9:27).
A. There are many appointments in life for which we may be late or dismiss altogether.
- Dentist, doctor, auto repair and similar appointments populate our personal calendars.
- Not long ago, I cancelled a doctor’s appointment, and I have been late for other appointments.
- We can even reschedule some appointments in this life.
B. However, not one of us can reschedule the appointment called death, followed by Judgment.
- “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue” (Job 14:1-2 NKJV).
- “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
- “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away” (1 Peter 1:24).
C. Whether one lives a long time or passes away prematurely, all of us are aware of the relative brevity of life.
- “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
- Mary Reed recently turned 83-years-old.
- Regardless of how long we live, our lives are short compared to the eternity to come.
II. Therefore, the wisest course of action that any of us can take is to make adequate preparation.
A. The Old Testament prophet Amos warned people of his day, “…prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).
- That warning is as appropriate for mankind today as it was anciently for the nation of Israel.
- Often as I drive around the states, I see Amos’ warning on signs in people’s yards.
B. Several New Testament passages, likewise, warn about making appropriate preparation for eternity.
- We need to be ready for the sudden, unannounced return of our Lord (Matthew 25:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).
- “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:36-44).
- We need to be ready for the eventual death that each of us must experience, for Ecclesiastes 9:5 reads, “For the living know that they shall die.”
C. Mary Reed made preparation for her passing from life to death by implementing the words of Jesus in her life regarding forgiveness of sin.
- Jesus said that a person must believe that He is the Christ or Savior (John 8:24).
- Jesus said that a person must repent or change from sin (Luke 13:3).
- Jesus said that a person must be willing to acknowledge before others that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah (Matthew 10:32-33).
- Jesus said that a person must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16).
- Jesus said that the child of God or Christian who remains faithful until death will be rewarded in heaven with a crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
- While humans often surmise who will be in heaven and who will not be in heaven, that is not something that God has delegated to humanity.
- The eternal destination of any soul is the sole responsibility of the Godhead (James 4:11-12).
- However, we can comfort ourselves that our God is not only righteous (Romans 2:5; 3:22), but He is merciful (Ephesians 2:4; Titus 3:5; James 5:11; 1 Peter 1:3).
- Furthermore, Jesus Christ personally will come to retrieve those that are His in the great, last day (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
- If we have not done so already, what you and I need to do before it is too late is to prepare personally for the sudden return of the Lord or our own eventual deaths.
- Preparation for our departure from this life may include prepaid funeral arrangements, but it includes much more, too.
Death is always a hard dose of reality, but the death of a mother is especially difficult to bear. I know from personal experience. At my mother’s funeral, I was surprised at my seemingly uncontrollable emotions, and for a year afterward, I could spontaneously and without warning break into tears. Yet, together, we can make it through the day, the days, the weeks, the months and the years that may lie ahead of us.
Let us pray together: