May 1st, 2010 is the one year anniversary of the death of a great friend, Ona Smith. We spent the weekend in Atlanta with Gary and several of his family members and we spent time remembering Ona and the life that she lived here on earth. The greatest thing is the fact that based on the faith we have in God, based on the Bible, The Word of God, it was only Ona’s body that dies one year ago today, Ona still lives.
You see as a Christian we have a God that was the first fruits to rise from the dead and because He is risen we too shall live eternally. Death is simply the doorway by which most of us will enter into our eternal state of life with God. I know that death is a sad subject, I have been confronted with the matter so many times just this week. I have preached in three funerals in this past week and today we remember Ona/ Last night several of my Youth from Hillsville communicated to me the tragic death of yet another young man in our community at home. Death is all around us, as a matter of fact, death entered the world when Adam and Eve chose to do things their way, rather than God’s way. This is the meaning of the Scripture where God says, (if you eat of the fruit of the tree, you will surely die.)
We mourn when a loved one leaves this world, this body but we will celebrate again with them in Heaven as Christians and that day will be so much sooner than we cab even imagine. You see, Eternal Life is the promise we have from God, if we know Him as Lord and Savior.
The Unveiling Service
There is a Jewish tradition of Unveiling the tombstone at the one year anniversary of the death of a loved one. Now the tradition is very understandable in the cycle of grief that we experience as humans. The typical thinking of the Jewish person is that for the first year after a person has died you will remember that person on a daily basis. The Unveiling of the “Stone of Remembrance” is part of the healing process beginning.
“The Unveiling Service”
A thousand Years, in the sight of our eternal and merciful Father, are but a day; the years of our life but a passing hour. He grants us life and life He has taken away; praised be His name.
Ona has been taken from our midst. We are pained by the gap in our lives. Yet love is strong as death; the bonds love creates are eternal. And ours is the blessing of memory, through which the lives of our departed continue to be with us
(The Covering Is Removed)
In the name of the family of Ona Smith and in the presence of her family and friends we consecrate this monument to her memory, as a token of our love and respect.
May her soul be bound up in the bond of life.
A little history on “Stones of Remembrance”
Genesis 35: 19-20 is the first recorded “Stone of Memorial or Remembrance”
19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a stone monument over Rachel’s grave, and it can be seen there to this day.
Then in Joshua Chapter 4: 1-9 we see where God told the Israelite’s to pick up stones and prepare them as a memorial of something miraculous He had done for them.
1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.
Our “Stones of Remembrance for Ona”
Today we did something a bit different but still much the same and I believe something that is very biblical. We unveiled the gravestone in memory and honor of Ona and the wonderful life that she lived. The “Stone” is cut from Granite that has a pink color and looked very much like what Ona would like. From the stone that is erected, Gary and Jessica were able to gather several pieces that were cut away from the original. Today each of the family and friends were invited to take a piece of the stone to remember Ona by. Not that we will need the memory but years down the road of life when children and grandchildren ask about the stone that is in the home of a family member, the story can then be recounted of Ona and the life that she lived.