Pastor's Pen
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October 9, 2013, 3:16 PM

Words from Rick





 Whatever happened to well-written epitaphs, or epitaphs in general? When I was in seminary and had preaching assignments, often I would drive out I-20 from Atlanta into Alabama to a small country church just on the Georgia/Alabama border. I liked going early so I could walk around their cemetery and read what people wrote about the dead in their community. Some disease hit that area in the early 1820’s and it took the lives of most of the children; grave after grave of little ones. In another place where we lived, we took the youth group at night to a cemetery to read old epitaphs on markers that were 150+ years old. You would hold the flashlight to the side of the grave marker and the words seemed as if they would pop off the old limestone markers. Some were extremely personal about a loving wife and mother. Others were quite harsh and probably too truthful for visitors to cemeteries to read! Here’s one that I found in a book of epitaphs:


In Memory ofBeza WoodDeparted this lifeNov. 2, 1837 - Age 45 yrs.

Here lies one Wood

Enclosed in wood

One Wood Within another.

The outer wood Is very good:

We cannot praiseThe other.


Now, who would write such a mean thing about the departed? Surely, there had to be some good in the man!    While it rained last Saturday, I stayed inside and watched the movie, The Bucket List, probably for the fifth time. About three-fourths the way into the movie, Morgan Freeman is telling Jack Nicholson about a teacher he had in a philosophy class. He remembered two things the teacher asked them: “Have you found joy in life?”  And, “Have you enabled others to find joy in their lives?”  I think these are two very important questions for living an effective life! How would you answer those questions? Here’s an epitaph from New England:


Mary S. Hoyt, 1836, Bradford, Vt

.She lived – what more can then be said:

She died – and all we know she’s dead.

I’ll say it for you, “How sad!”


 I’ve said it before to our congregation, and I still believe it … the central note of the Christian faith is joy; and the central expression of that note of joy is gratitude! Have you found joy in life? Have you helped others find it?



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