Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Dee’s Words from the Funeral

October 2, 2006

In a week that was a storm of decisions, there were a few that were so obvious that they seemed easy. Asking our dear friend Deanna to be the Presiding Minister at our son’s funeral was one of those choices. Her leadership and presence and strength and attention to detail is such that it never occurred to me that she had never filled such a role before. Of course, she rose to the occasion, and led a room full of people into a place of remembrance, and laughter, and love. Indeed, she led us to God.

Welcome & Prayer

Welcome. What a blessing it is to see so many friends and family of the Stavlunds gathered this afternoon.

Mike and Stacy, this is your gathered community. And honestly, it represents only a small fraction of the people who know you and love you. In case you can’t tell, you are special people. You have a gift for forming relationships and truly, your friendships span the globe. There are people in this room who have known you since you were born and people who have only met you in the past few months but love you already.

There’s been an interesting phenomenon going on over the past few days. As people have arrived for this event, we’ve introduced ourselves to each other, of course; like normal people do. “Hi, I’m Deanna.” Or “Hi, I’m Becky.” Or “Hi, I’m Matt.” You know, like normal people do. But then there’s inevitable follow-up that goes something like, “Oh, wait a second, you’re Gospel Matt!” or “You’re Aunt Faye!” or “Hold on, let me see you smile… you’re Greta!” or “Oh right, you’re… uh… that lady with the name nobody can pronounce…” It’s been amazing to see our online, virtual community become real over the past few days.

So as this has been happening, I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that this community reaches so wide and crosses so many generational, technological and geographical lines. I thought it was maybe because Mike and Stacy were great people, which they are, but I’m not sure that would be enough to bridge so many boundaries. So I thought maybe it was the fact that Mike and Stacy have traveled fairly extensively but that didn’t seem like it either. I thought maybe it was the networks they are a part of, emergent and relational tithe, for example. But still, that didn’t seem to explain the solidarity and friendship I was seeing.

Finally I came to the conclusion that the reason we are all connected to each other and so connected to Mike and Stacy is because of the very special life of this little boy. We have prayed for this child since before he was born. There has never been a child conceived on earth that was more desired than this one. He and his sister had us all ooing and ahing over them when they were literally embryos in a petri dish! We were hooked! And we have been ever since.

And then last Thanksgiving, things got complicated. We ached with Mike and Stacy as first the pregnancy got complicated and then the bad news began to arrive about Will’s physical challenges. We cried, we prayed, we hoped and we waited for the day when we would meet this little boy and the adventure of his life would begin.

During the past 4 months, Mike has written about Will’s life with more faithfulness, honesty and transparency than any of the rest of us could have mustered in the midst of the rigors of Will’s schedule. For four months, we celebrated the milestones and achievements and grieved the setbacks and frustrations. And we did it together.

In his short life, Will touched people. He brought families and friends together. He inspired hope. He taught us to pray. He looked at us with those deep, wise eyes and made us do better, try harder, wait longer.

Mike and Stacy have always desired that their home, their family and their very lives be saturated with God’s love and be a taste of God’s Kingdom. Will did that. Will, in 4 months, helped bring the Kingdom to earth.

So, thank you, each of you, for coming today. We are here to celebrate and remember a very special life; a little boy who, in his four months, may have experienced, and may have inspired, more love than many people do in a full lifetime.

Let’s pray together

Creator of all,
we thank you for the gift of life you gave to Will.
In our confusion and grief
help us to remember the joy
which he brought us in the short time that he lived,
and guide us through our grief and darkness
to the light of your unfailing love.
We give you this time of remembrance, praying that will be a fit tribute to this life you created and the beginning of healing for Will’s family.

Amen.

Prayer and Committal

Loving Father,
we thank you for the gift of Will
and for the blessing he brought to our lives.
Help us now to entrust him
to your never-failing care and love.
And may your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen.

Will,
Into God’s loving care and compassion,
into his arms of infinite mercy,
we commend you.
Rest now and know that your race was well run.

And for those that remain…
Mike and Stacy, this past Sunday, yesterday, you had planned to have Will baptized. That ceremony would have included a time when we, your church, your family and your spiritual community would have vowed to help you along the path of Will’s life. Today instead, we’d like to vow to help you in his death.

As a community of God, we understand that our commitment to this family continues after today’s ceremony and along whatever rocky path may lie ahead for Mike, Stacy and Ella. Please consider these questions, each of you, and answer honestly and thoughtfully.

As the Holy Spirit brings Mike, Stacy and Ella to mind, will you faithfully pray for them, letting your faith be theirs during this difficult time? If so, please answer, “With God’s help, I will”. Will you?
People: With God’s help, I will.

As you’re able to engage with Mike and Stacy, to see and hear them working out their grief, will you give them freedom to heal in their own way, at their own pace and in their own time? If so, please answer, “With God’s help, I will”. Will you?
People: With God’s help, I will.

And for as long as God grants the presence of this family in your life, will you help preserve the memory of Will, counting each moment with him as precious? If so, please answer, “With God’s help, I will”. Will you?
People: With God’s help, I will.

Father God, lead us as we love this family.
May we be your arms to comfort them during this time.
Amen

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One Response to “Dee’s Words from the Funeral”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing with us the prayers and words of friends from Will’s funeral. I could not be there and so much appreciate being able to share a bit in how Will’s extended family mourned together. You, Stacy, and Ella are in my thoughts and prayers. LMK

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