Funeral Service for Jay Michael Lindgren

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Light and Life FMC

 

 

 

(Play first half of song, Freebird.)

 

We are here today to remember and to celebrate the life of Jay Lindgren.

 

As I was preparing for our service today, I was reminded of the time I was sitting in the Indianapolis airport back in September of 1997. I was sitting in the gate area waiting to fly out on business when the news came on the television announcing the death of Princess Diana. The world was stunned! And millions were affected by that tragic death, many offering their personal tributes to Diana.

 

One of those was Elton John, who rewrote the lyrics to his famous song, Candle in the Wind, and played it at her funeral, the only time he has played it in a live concert.

 

I am not going to sing it for you.

 

But, the chorus reads,

 

And it seems to me you lived your life

Like a candle in the wind

Never fading with the sunset

When the rain set in

And your footsteps will always fall here

Along Englands greenest hills

Your candles burned out long before

Your legend ever will

 

In talking with different people this week, I could not help be think that Jay was a bit of legend in his own right. J

 

Yesterday, his dad and I were talking about the fact that though he only lived for 20 years, he did a lot of living in those 20 years. And he touched a lot of people.

 

There are certainly many of you who knew Jay much better than I did. But I did have the privilege of knowing him first from back when I was the youth pastor here at the church.

 

And more recently, we played volleyball in here on Tuesdays nights. Ryan Goode would always invite a bunch of the guys to come on over, and Jay was usually a part of that group. We had a lot of fun pounding on one another in here.

 

One thing you needed to know if you were going to play here was the unwritten rule.

 

The usual routine was to come in, put our street clothes, cell phones, and whatever else here on the steps. And then get the games going and play until dropped from exhaustion.

 

Inevitably, somebodys cell phone would ring, and the game would come to a grinding halt while one of the guys went over to talk on the phone (usually to a girlfriend). So, the unwritten rule was that it was then our job to heckle whoever it was to get him back out on the court faster, so our game could continue.

 

It is a matter of priorities. Girls? Or volleyball?

 

Well, Jay was often one of the guys having to interrupt the game to go answer the phone. So, Ashley, sorry we gave him a hard time, but rules are rules. J

 

I am sure as you think back over the time you have known Jay there are memories that come to mind.

 

I want to share just a few of the highlights that were passed along to me.

 

(Read some of the Tribute Thoughts)

 

In addition to some of these reflections, the Lindgrens wanted me to share a poem that was given to them. It was penned by our own Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley.

 

(Read poem)

 

Jays sisters, Amanda and Erika, put together a few songs in memory of Jay. We want to take a few minutes to listen to one entitled, Songbird, by Eva Cassidy.

 

(Play song, Songbird.)

 

Under these kinds of devastating circumstances, it is difficult to know how to process this whole experience.

 

Tragedy brings a whole host of emotion, such as sadness, grief, anger, and uncertainty

 

It is very natural to ask questions.

 

Why did this have to happen?

Where was God in all of this?

If He is so loving, why did He allow this happen?

 

The answers to such questions are difficult at best.

 

And, I would be naive to think that any trite answer I might give would provide satisfactory comfort to such questions.

 

We do not always know why such things like this happen.

 

And, when I am in the midst of difficult circumstances, while I might not always know the reasons why, I have to cling to what I do know.

 

But, this we do know.

 

1.      God knows and He cares.

 

Illustration: Peter was enjoying life with his wife and beautiful daughter. Suddenly, without warning, his wife was killed in a car wreck, leaving him to care for his 5 year old little girl. The night after the funeral he was helping his daughter get ready for bed. As he was buttoning the last of those tiny little buttons with his big bulky fingers, they lights went out all over the house. He turned to his little girl and told her to lay still. He would be right back.

 

She wrapped her arms around his neck and said, Take me with you, Daddy! And with that, they headed out the door, down the hall to the electrical panel in the basement. As they were going down the stairs, she looked at her daddy and said,

 

I am not afraid, Daddy, because you are here!

 

At that point, it hit him. He looked at his little girl, with tears streaming down his cheeks, and said,

 

I am not afraid either, because my heavenly Father is here with me too.

 

That stairway became a sanctuary for Peter, a place of safety that gave him a glimmer of hope, because God was there.

 

Deuteronomy 33 tells us, The Eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are his everlasting arms.

 

The Bible also describes God as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles. He promises never to leave us or forsake us.

 

He is a God who loves us more than anything. And He understands the pain of losing a Son.

 

He voluntarily gave up His Son, Jesus, so that we might have the opportunity of heaven.

 

Scripture reminds us in Romans 8 (The Message translation),

 

If God did not hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he would not gladly and freely do for us?

 

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?

 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death cannot, and life cannot. The angels cannot, and the demons cannot. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.

 

Not only can we be certain about who God is, but we can also be certain about who Jay was.

 

2.      Jay Lindgrens life made a contribution.

 

As I stood over at the funeral home yesterday during the viewing, I was struck by this idea.

 

Take a minute and look around this sanctuary.

 

Look at the sheer numbers of people whose lives have been touched, either directly and indirectly, through Jay.

 

Even the circumstances of Jays death were certainly tragic, his life was so much more than those final moments.

 

He probably did not even appreciate how far-reaching his impact was.

 

And his influence will not necessarily stop even after his death. Jays life, even as it has been cut short, still has the potential for influence. If we choose to learn from this experience and choose to become better for it.

 

I was talking with Jays mom and dad about that on Wednesday morning. And that desire to bring some positive good out of this difficult experience, is largely what prompted them to establish the Jay Lindgren Memorial Fund in his honor.

 

This is a memorial fund for which contributions can be made today and in the days to come on his behalf. The monies received will be going to a charitable organization in memory of Jay. Imagine the lives that will be touched just through that effort!

 

And not only that, but our lives are touched as well.

 

How can we use Jays death to spur each of us on to a renewed commitment to live our lives well?

 

To never lose sight of those things which matter most.

 

The Bible tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that the two greatest commandments, even greater than the Ten Commandments, have to do with God and people.

 

Commandment #1 Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

 

Commandment #2 Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

God and people. Very simple, yet profound, advice when it comes to what our priorities should be.

 

If I were to ask many of you who knew Jay best, What do you remember most about Jay?, there would most likely be a nearly universal response.

 

He was a good friend.

 

He valued people and relationships, and we should do the same.

 

How often do we take life for granted?

 

It is not until we are faced with the reality of death, that we pause to consider our own mortality.

 

Today, we are reminded of the certainty of death.

 

Ironically, however, for those of us who are younger, we tend to assume that we have all the time in the world.

 

But, as someone remarked to me yesterday, This is a wake-up call.

 

It should be a wake-up call for all of us.

 

I know it is for me.

 

I recently started blog on the internet called, The Daily Detour. It is basically a website to reflect on the current happenings of the day.

 

After being with the Lindgren family this past Wednesday, I put a post on my blog that presented some reflections I had regarding Jays death.

 

If you will indulge me, I would like to read a portion of that post to you.

 

(Read TDD post, Facing our Mortality, from March 20, 2007 http://thedailydetour.typepad.com/tdd/2007/03/facing_our_mort.html)

 

I share this with you as a challenge to all of us. Jays death should give us pause to reflect on our lives and the impact they have on others.

 

What is the legacy we are going to leave?

 

At the end of our lives, what will people say of us?

 

And, if, at the end of our time here on earth, our lives are different, if our lives are better, and if our faith in God is stronger because of what we have experienced through this tragedy, then Jays legacy lives on long after his death.

 

I, for one, want to say that it was my extreme privilege to know Jay during the brief time he was with us. And, I know that his legacy will live on in my own life. His death, as tragic as it is, has made my life better, and for that I am very thankful.

 

May that be said of all of us.

 

Closing prayer

 

(Conkle funeral director gives final logistical instructions.)

 

(Play song, Knocking on Heavens Door, as people are filing past the casket to pay their last respects.)