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By Rev. Beth Johnston

The individual died at age 15

     (Psalms 46:1 NRSV)  God is our refuge and strength, a very
     present help in trouble.

     (Revelation 7:17 NRSV)  for the Lamb at the center of the
     throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to
     springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every
     tear from their eyes."

     (Matthew 5:4 NRSV)  "Blessed are those who mourn, for they
     will be comforted.

     God is with us:  God's love unites us; God's purpose
     steadies us;  God's Spirit comforts us.  Blessed be God

     Friends, we gather here in the protective shelter of God's
     healing love.  We are free to pour out our grief, release
     our anger, face our emptiness, and know that God cares.

     We gather to comfort and support one another in our common
     loss; especially remembering NNN we gather to hear God's
     word of hope that can drive away our despair and move us to
     offer praise to God.  We commend N to God's care and keeping
     as we celebrate the good news of Christ's resurrection.  For
     whether we live or whether we die, we belong to Christ, who
     is Lord both of the dead and of the living.

SOLO  "Precious Memories"

     Loving God, your embrace supports us in life, your spirit
     watches over us in death.  We bless you for the joy shown by
     Jesus in children, and for the assurance that to such
     belongs the kingdom of heaven.  Even in our sorrow allow us
     to commit ourselves and those we love into your care and
     keeping.  Forgive us when we take your gifts for granted, 
     lift our guilt from us and bring us to trust in the love you
     offer us.  In our confusion help us to trust where we cannot
     understand.  In our aching loneliness may we remember N  in
     love, trusting him into your keeping until that eternal
     morning breaks; through our Saviour Jesus Christ.  

     We gather here on this sad day to remember the life of NNN,
son Nand N, step-son of N, brother of Nand N, grandson and
great-grandson, nephew, friend and neighbour.  N was born in1982
and died suddenly, and sadly, by his own hand, on date.  
     He is remembered by N of father and other members of his
family for his love of  science projects.  He dreamed of being an
electrical engineer.  He loved most sports, was protective of
younger children and was in many ways a peace-maker between his
parents and others in the family.  He was a very sensitive and
caring child and was helpful to his family and to the neighbours. 
Even though he had a common boyish naughty side he was truly
well-liked by all.  
     His love of small animals is remembered by one fellow 4H
member.  One year he spoke on Guinea pigs for the annual public
speaking contest and had actually brought several live specimens
and at the end of the speech in a glorious and surprising gesture
offered one to the judges.  "That is why I love Guinea pigs,
here, I'm sure you'll like them too!"  
     His brother N remembers playing catch and going swimming. 
They would bike around community name and other community name,
talk about their futures and build models together.
     His brother enjoyed their quiet talks together and listening
to their favourite music.  
     His mother N remembers his bib bear hugs, and his second
sense about how she was feeling.  He'd say, "Mom, don't cry,
things will be OK", or "Mom you sure look pretty!"  Nand N
(Mother and step-father)  remember waiting for him to come off
the school bus when he would be half and hour behind the others. 
He had been looking at rabbit tracks or the eagles soaring in the
sky.  They would look out the window and see him playing with his
dog or very quietly trying to see a squirrel up close.  He was a
child who truly marvelled at the things most take for granted. 
His favourite question was "Why".  Most times the questions had
no answers.  
     His foster-sister N says that N was the best brother she
ever had, and in her heart was 'a real brother'.  She remembers
the time he crawled under the step so that he could show her a
new-born puppy.
     His friend N remembers the good times they had together.  
     In the last two and a half days you who are his family and
friends have been struggling with the sad mystery that surrounds
his death.  It may seem that the pain you feel inside of you will
tear you apart.  Perhaps it is a dull aching emptiness that fills
your heart and soul.  Perhaps you have rehearsed your last
meeting with him time and time again?  Perhaps you ask, "what
could you have said or done differently?"  Some of you here may
feel guilt over something you said or did not say in that last
few days.  That is normal.  Many of you wanted a chance to say
good-bye.  That too is normal.  Your grief is bound up in these
feelings that are part and parcel of the suicide of a close
friend or relative.  In the light of this I cannot emphasize
enough that this IS NOT YOUR FAULT.  I want to say that few, if
any suicides, happen because of one event, or one bad day. 
Perhaps there was a straw that broke the camels back, but there
is always a previous burden of pain and anguish.  So those of you
who have guilt feelings over something said or not said, recently
or long ago, please remember that you are not to blame.  For
whatever reason his pain was too great, too heavy for him to
bear.  I know that you would have done everything in your power
if you had known.  
     No matter what we say here today, we cannot bring him back,
but in the hopes that it could help someone else his father and 
some of the family has asked me to speak briefly on suicide
prevention.  Of course, I can only touch on this subject very
briefly at this time.  

      FIRST:   I want to speak to his fellow students.  The
1990's are hard times; perhaps harder than they have ever been. 
With all of the pressures you face it may sometimes seem that
life is bleak, and not worth living, especially if you are having
trouble at home or in school or if you feel that no one
understands you.  If this is how you feel TALK TO SOMEONE.  If
that someone you choose will not or cannot listen, TALK TO
SOMEONE ELSE.  Very few people can read minds: your parents,
teachers and friends may think they know what is going on, but
they can't really know unless you tell them.  If you have
considered suicide PLEASE talk to someone SOON.  Talking about it
will not make it happen and it can prevent it.  
     If you need to talk about N please do so, as often as you
want and for as long as you want.  Do not bottle your feelings
up. Talking about them will not increase the hurt but a burden
shared becomes lighter.  In fact, this advice applies to
everyone, no matter what age you are - share your feelings and do
not let them eat you alive.  There are people who care and people
who can  help. 

      SECOND:  I want to speak to parents or people who work with
young people.  The behaviour of children and teens has always
been a perplexing mystery.  Some actions are causes for worry,
some not.  Be aware of changes in their mood or behaviour and BE
AVAILABLE TO TALK OF LISTEN TO THEM.  Remember though that it is
not always possible to know the deeply hidden problems carried by
some of our teens.  All any of us can ever do is our best.  That
is all that can be expected of any of us.  

     I'd like to read the words to a hymn, written by a dying
grandmother to her own grandchildren.  I believe they speak of N
and to us.  Here I quote "In the Bulb There is  Flower" by
Natalie Sleeth.  It is found in Voices United.  

     God of comfort and peace, help us to hear the words and the
     encouragement of the scriptures that we may hold fast to the
     assurance of your love and the hope of life eternal through
     Jesus Christ, our risen Saviour. Amen.

SOLO:  "Jesus Loves Me"

     (Lamentations 3 NRSV  selected)  {17} my soul is bereft of
     peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; {18} so I say,
     "Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the
     LORD." {19} The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
     is wormwood and gall! {20} My soul continually thinks of it
     and is bowed down within me. {21} But this I call to mind,
     and therefore I have hope: {22} The steadfast love of the
     LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; {23}
     they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. {24}
     "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will
     hope in him." {25} The LORD is good to those who wait for
     him, to the soul that seeks him. {26} It is good that one
     should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. {32b}he
     will have compassion according to the abundance of his
     steadfast love; {33} for he does not willingly afflict or
     grieve anyone. 

     (Psalms 23 KJV)  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
     {2} He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth
     me beside the still waters. {3} He restoreth my soul: he
     leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's
     sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
     shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
     thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. {5} Thou preparest a
     table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou
     anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. {6} Surely
     goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
     and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

     (John 14 NRSV selected)  "Do not let your hearts be
     troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. {2} 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? {3} 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{18} "I will not leave you orphaned; I
     am coming to you. {19} In a little while the world will no
     longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also
     will live. {27} Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to
     you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let
     your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 

     The death of a loved one can shake us to our very
foundations.  When the person is so young and so full of
potential and hope ---- the feelings of grief and loss can be
even more overwhelming.
     At times such as this we turn to our friends and family for
support, for a shoulder to cry on and for someone to walk that
road of pain and anguish with us.  
     At times such as this we turn to our faith, to the
scriptures and to the church community for the assurance that we
are not alone, that someone greater than us watches over us and
that our loved one has found the peace in death that must have so
eluded him in the last hours of his life.  
     The words of the third lamentation could well be our own on
this day.  The writer knew well the feeling of anguish.  Whatever
had happened was a devastating event.  Not only was this author
shaken, but so much so that happiness was all but forgotten.  The
Bible is a beautiful and powerful book, not only for the message
of faith and trust in God that it presents to us but for the
unadorned honesty with which it presents human emotions.  There
are no punches pulled here; the author tells it like it is.  The
Bible acknowledges these feelings, the people of faith from long
ago did indeed feel free to present these feelings to God without
fear because they knew, even in the midst of their pain and grief
that their God's love was steadfast and that God's promises were
sure.  When an individual forgot it or when an individual ceased
to believe it for a time, the faith of the community, of family
and friends walked with them until those hurting and grieving
ones could come back to that relationship of trust and faith and
     The words of the 23 psalm are so very familiar to all of us
here.  They have been uttered so many times in situations of
trouble and grief and sadness.  They speak to the reality of a
God who cares for each one of us like a shepherd cares for sheep. 
They speak to the reality of a God who, like a shepherd, goes out
of the way to save a little one from danger.  These verses speak
to the reality of a God who cares even when the people have gone
in the other direction.  This is a love that never ends.  This is
a love that surrounded N  in life, a love that surrounds him in
death and in the new life to which he has been raised and
surrounds us and carried us in our grief.  
     The gospel lesson speaks to a time when Jesus was preparing
to journey to Jerusalem.  He knew that the journey to Jerusalem
would mean that he had to face suffering and death.  Beginning to
realize this, the disciples were afraid of being left alone, they
were afraid that they would never see Jesus again.  Jesus assures
them that they will see each other again.  Jesus assures them
that they will come to know the love of a God who has room for
everyone, a God whose love knows no limits.  God's love is like a
gigantic Bed and Breakfast, where there will never ever be a 'no
vacancy' sign.  This love gave Jesus the strength to walk the way
to the cross.  This love strengthened the disciples in the
terrible aftermath of his death and this love can give us the
strength and the hope and the courage that we need to go on from
this terrible week and into the future.  
     N's life and death has changed you and you will never be the
same again,  but God will help you find new ways of carrying on,
God will give you the strength to go on without him.  The name N
means "God delivers".  God's power can deliver you  to a new day. 
Remember him as he was.  Remember the good times, his love and
his care for you.  Also, in your grief please remember the
living: care for one another for you have all been through a
terrible tragedy.  Do not forget to give thanks to God, for his
life was a precious gift to all of you.  Lean of God, for God is
strong and is able to carry you through this to the light and
peace of a new day.  
Reading:  "Footprints"  

     Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession: by guest minister.


SOLO:  "Amazing Grace"

     Into your hands o merciful Saviour, we commend your servant
     NNN.  Acknowledge, we humbly pray you, a sheep of your fold,
     a lamb of your flock, and a child of your redeeming. 
     Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed
     rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of
     the saints in light Amen. 

     May the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow bring you from
     this place of mourning to the light and peace of a new day
     where you may remember what once was and have hope in what
     is yet to be.   Amen

SERVICE OF COMMITTAL SCRIPTURE SENTENCES: (Matthew 18:10 NRSV) "Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. (John 16:22 NRSV) So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. COMMITTAL: With thanksgiving for the life lived and the love shared, we commit the body of NNN to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, trusting in God's never-ending love which surrounds both him and us, now and forever. Amen. PRAYER: Source of all mercies and giver of all comfort, deal graciously with all who mourn, that, casting their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Amen SENDING FORTH: The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of Jesus Christ our risen Saviour. And the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

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