The Cycle of Life
“One generation shall praise your works to another.”
Goodbye to one generation; hello to a new one! I once had the honor and privilege to officiate at a graveside funeral for a grandfather and to baptize his new grandson in the same service.
Let me explain.
The grandfather was a dear family friend of many years. He was an Air Force officer and jet pilot. While he was doing flight-instructing, the student pilot flying alongside him hit his canopy with his wing tip, causing him to bailout at a low altitude and, as a result, he hit the ground too fast. In the process, he broke his neck. After much surgery and a lot of rehab, he put his life back together, got married and eventually he was able to walk with braces. He and his wife had twin daughters I had the honor to baptize 25 years ago. One of the girls had a son three months ago. I was called and asked to do the funeral and they asked, “By the way, could I also do the baptism?” I said, "Why not!" Liturgically it made things a little different–maybe even a first!
The ceremonies took place at their family cemetery outside Richmond, Texas, under a tent in the rain. In my remarks at the graveside, I reflected on the example of his life for us to follow. My friend had faith, courage and determination to continue on in life. His faith gave him hope, his courage gave him the will to live and his determination gave him the discipline to learn to walk again. The least I could do was to bury him with honor and baptize the future of the family.
The Air Force Honor Guard did a great job in reminding us of the respect and gratitude we have for those who have served our country. Taps, a 21-gun salute, and the presentation of our flag to the family is always impressive and moving. It reminds me of what Winston Churchill requested for his funeral at St. Paul's in London. At the end of the service, a bugler played Last Post (the British equivalent of Taps) from up in the dome of the Cathedral. Then, after a moment of silence, he played Reveille as a reminder that it was also the beginning of a new day.
I’m thankful to the family for the honor of officiating at their combined service, a visible symbol of the verse above from Psalm 145.