Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
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Funeral Sermon - Crystal E. (Hammer) Cuthbert

January 4:

Funeral Sermon - Crystal E. (Hammer) Cuthbert
DOB: 10/16/1926   DOD: 12/28/2013   DOF: 1/4/2014

Today is the 21st and last day of a difficult three week period
   That began with Crystal's December 15 stroke
   Continued through her hospitalization
   To her death a week ago
And finally to this morning
As you and I gather to celebrate her life.

These three weeks have been a mixture of smiles and tears
   Smiles for our remembrances of her
   Tears because we feel a loss and an emptiness in our lives.

These three weeks have made me particularly conscious of
   The accuracy and the depth in the words
   Of the Old Testament writer who wrote:
      "For every thing there is a season
      And a time for every matter under heaven."

The writer then went on to list pairs of events
   Each pair containing two "connected opposites"
      Like weeping and laughter
      Like mourning and dancing
And of course
   "A time to be born      And a time to die"

I believe that the connected opposites in the book of Ecclesiastes
   Describe our responses and reactions
   Throughout this period.

But the interesting thing to me is, that despite my sadness,
   During the time I spent these weeks with her
and with Bill & Kathy
I found myself more often smiling   than weeping.
And as I reflected on that
I began to realize that there is nothing more positive that we can say about a person and her life
      Than that the smiles she inspired
      Outnumbered the tears that she caused.

One of the smiles that kept returning to my face was of this Thanksgiving.

Crystal and Bill were part of an eclectic group of ten
   Gathered at our table for the holiday meal
   All contributed
with the food they brought
      And with the joy of their presence

Afterwards, as people were leaving
   I commented that this disparate group
had seemed very much like a family
And Crystal responded with a smile and an observation:
      "Except that there were no arguments."

I suspect that I will smile about that comment
   On the fourth Thursday of each future November.

The words I shared from Ecclesiastes
   Help us put our loss into perspective
But the scripture that helps me understand Crystal's life
   is from Matthew's gospel   [25: 31-40]

This is a scripture that I have used for people
   Who gave of themselves to others
   People whom I am convinced were sheep.

And Crystal Cuthbert was a sheep

For she was a woman who gave of herself
   That the lives of others might be enriched.

The people in the churches she helped Bill lead would know that
The children that she helped at CPS       would know that
And of course, her family knew it.
   Bill, whose life and ministry were strengthened
      From the day he first spotted her in Ann Arbor
         On the University of Michigan campus
      Through a marriage that lasted 63 years
        45 of which were spent making Potsdam a better place

Kirk and Kathy (and Christy during her life) knew that.

They knew that
   From her continuing to pack their lunches
even when they were in high School
from her practice of sending cards and packages
   while they were in college
   and as they lived in other parts of the country
      and other parts of the world
[her last Christmas card to Kirk arrived
four days after she had suffered the stroke that
rendered her unconscious
   from he encouraging them to sing
in the car and while saying grace at the table

And with both admiration and self consciousness
they knew she was a sheep
From the ways she tried to instill healthy habits in them.

They vividly remember
   Not only their mother taking them through the Canadian RAF exercise routine,
   But also

   That Adelle Davis' 1947 healthy eating cookbook
   Seemed second only to the Bible in Crystal's
      Pantheon of books

This, in turn, resulted in their being the only ones at school
Who had PBH sandwiches on whole grain bread
Instead of PBJ on white

What struck me the most, however, was what she did when the kids began college
   For a day or so before school began
      She would mail them a letter at their school address
      To ensure that they would have mail
in their first couple of days in a new place.

Would anyone but a sheep have done that?

We gather today, at the end of three difficult weeks.

We gather fully aware of our loss
   And of the pain and emptiness we feel.
And yet we gather still smiling and feeling Crystal's presence
   Days after Christ came to get His sheep.

We gather today
to celebrate Crystal's life
   to give God thanks for her life
   And especially for the fact that her life intertwined with and impacted ours.

Thanks be to God, and Amen.