We have gathered in this house of mourning in memory of a young man who departed this earth on **** 2013.
It is with a heavy heart that we meet here today. Heavy with the pain of a life interrupted, a family torn with grief over the loss of one of their own. A mother who must now must face life without her baby boy.
Psalm 46:1-7 states:
1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Funerals are always sad occasions, but nevertheless, it is fitting that we should come and mourn and grieve together. That we should sympathize and lend encouragement to the bereaved…it is biblical.
When Job’s three friends heard of his trials and pain and loss they made plans and came to mourn with him and comfort him.
Words cannot suffice at a time like this.
The bible says “Rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep.”
So today we weep…and still some will rejoice in the eternal promise that is salvation.
Sure…we try as best as possible to sympathize and even empathize, but the realization that his life is no more is a stark reminder of the fragile nature of this existence.
There are no words that we can say today that will have any bearing on the eternal destiny of this young man; funerals are for the living!
So we leave all those matters in the hands of a God who does all things perfectly.
I asked family members and friends about Jonathan and they said this young man loved life. He was well loved by family and friends alike. He was funny, a leader and above all things, passionate about people.
But like all of us…imperfect.
The word of God says in Romans 3:10:
“No one is righteous—not even one.”
And this boy was no exception.
But I will tell you what he was…he was a mother’s son, a fathers son, a sisters brother, an aunts and uncles nephew, a cousin, a friend, a grandmothers baby.
He was someone made in the image of God. Now, he is no more.
What we have left is memories of a life lived too soon.
So what will be his legacy?
The dictionary defines the word Legacy as:
: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest
2: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.
Synonyms for legacy include: birthright, heritage, and inheritance – to name a few.
So what will his legacy be?
He didn’t have any children nor wife…so what will be his LEGACY?
This young man had an uncle whom he never met that was also killed on the streets of this city at a tender age more than 30 years ago. LEGACY!
And while I was not at that funeral…I am sure that some of the things that we are experiencing here were experienced back then. Some of you here were present as young people back then. I am certain that there were tears and that there were many questions.
Just like today.
The countless whys? The countless… what could have been done differently? The questions that echo in our hearts about what might have been.
As I look across the room I can’t help but wonder how many here will look at this scene and think about your own legacy.
What kind of life are you living?
What are you doing with your time?
How do you love these days?
Before this night is over many of you will be doing exactly what you did yesterday…good bad or indifferent.
Many of you will mourn this young man and yet, be completely unaffected in your daily life.
Not His Mother…Not His Family!
This scene has become so commonplace in our American landscape that we are no longer sensitive to it.
Another life lost…another FAMILY mourns.
The bible teaches us in John 15:13 that:
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
When I was a young man like this, running the streets of NYC with my brother we believed in this creed.
To Lay Down Your Life For One’s Friends!!!
If somebody got us…then we got them.
An eye for an eye.
And I even believed that if you did it on the field of battle…than that was an amazing legacy to leave behind. I fantasized about coming over the hill and going out in a blaze of Glory.
Brothers and sisters…there is no glory in dying for the sake of dying. There is no glory in even living for the sake of living.
But living in a way that is filled with love, peace, understanding and compassion…that is truly laying down your life…laying down your selfish wants and desires…laying down your needs for someone else…Giving your all and your best in the service of others. That is what our Father calls for!!!
It is a selfish act to take a life.
It is a cowardly act to take a Life.
If we were forced to see the results of that action…if we could fast forward to the day of the funeral…this day…if we could fast forward to the cemetery…this day…if we could fast forward to the screaming mother…crying…years from now…very few would do it…Very few.
Is a legacy of death what we are leaving behind for our children?
A legacy of godlessness?
Is that going to be your legacy?
I have heard people say that he was a good boy. I have heard strangers just assume the worse of him also. What was he doing out late that night? Who was he running with? The answer to those questions won’t bring him back.
What is going to be his Legacy now?
This boy also had a cousin, consequently, the son of that murdered uncle that was also shot in the prime of his youth…legacy…but did not die. Instead lived…instead was given a second chance…instead stands today…preaching the funeral of a departed cousin. Changing Legacy.
You hear people say things like…”no one knows what tomorrow may bring.”
James 4:13-14 says
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
A Mist That Appears And Then Is Gone!
A Mist That Appears And Then Is Gone! You hear me…gone.
Do you believe that perhaps like you this boy had plans…had dreams…had hopes and aspirations?
I KNOW HE DID.
LIFE can end at any time…are you ready?
Your casket could be here tomorrow…are you ready?
What will be your legacy?
What will they say about you?
You all have an opportunity today to forget about everything that you have done wrong in your lives in the past, repent, call on Jesus and shape your own legacy.
Just as the children of that murdered uncle have changed his legacy from negative to positive by leaving behind the hate and death.
If you loved…really loved this young man…than don’t die for him…live for him.
Live your life in such a way that he would be proud to call you friend. Love people in a greater way than he did and he was both love-able and love-filled. Do not waste your life in useless pursuits.
As I prepared for this sermon today I thought of all of you…and how many of you would think that I was just another preacher who doesn’t really no what’s going on. How many of you don’t believe in God at all? How many of you can’t wait for all this to be over so you can return to what you were doing…life before this tragedy.
But that didn’t move me. No sir.
Almost every picture that I could find of this young man, he was wearing a cross necklace.
I saw wooden ones, metal ones…even a plastic one. You see, right now at this very moment this boy knows what some of us believe by faith and some of us deny…that there is a GOD!
RIGHT NOW…Jonathan is not confused about that. RIGHT NOW…he is not worried about what others think. RIGHT NOW…he is not searching for who he is. RIGHT NOW…he is not worrying about people making fun of him…RIGHT NOW…he doesn’t care what crew you belong to…
We can be coy NOW…we can be fresh NOW…we can make believe He doesn’t exist NOW…but on that day…oh yes, on that day when you come face to face with He that was there in the beginning…He that was slain – there will be NO DOUBT.
If this body lying behind me were to be given voice, he might cry out like the man in Luke 16:19:
“Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” – you are all those brothers.
That is not to say where this young man’s soul is for we leave his eternal destiny as I stated, in the hands of God. But he is crying out to all of you young people right now. Regardless of where he is, he knows that God is reaL AND THAT WE ARE IN NEED OF A SAVIOR!!!
Listen to me…we have an eternal hope that is Christ Jesus.
The finality of death in this world is trampled by the words from 2 Corinthians 5:8, we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Eternity in the arms of Jesus.
The time to come to God is at hand. I am sure that Jonathan did not start that fateful day with any expectation that it would be his last.
Yet, we can all be comforted by the comforter in the hope that on the precipice of those final moments a merciful and gracious God was waiting for his child to come home.
I offer that to you Mother…take comfort in that.
Don’t let his legacy be one of sadness…let it be one filled with the joy that passes all understanding. The joy that can only come from having a right relationship with Jesus the Christ.
The one thing that we can all be assured of…regardless of what you believe…is that we are all going to die some day.
But you can make a choice right now –
Instead of death…life…
instead of anger…compassion…
instead of weakness…strength…
instead of hate…love…
instead of fear…boldness, to stand out and do that which is right.
“For God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of peace, love and a sound mind.”
Get right with God…today…right now…this moment will echo in eternity. You are no longer ignorant about the saving grace of Christ Jesus.
For all who call on THAT name will be saved. You have heard the truth. You have been told. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
You may never get another chance.
John 16:22 reminds us that:
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
Leave a legacy of love and self-sacrifice…that is what he would have wanted.
Let us pray…