Monday, June 15, 2009

Late For Your Own Funeral?


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
It actually happened - a funeral that started about 1 1/2 hours late because the deceased was late. There was a good reason: the motorcycle escort - all 18-some motorcycles - bringing Robbie Sturma's ashes got delayed.

When I heard that a biker group called "The Regulators" was bringing Robbie's urn to the church via motorcycle, I had a moment of fear: being a Stephen King fan, the word "regulator" brings to mind a very fearful image. However, these bikers were Regulators all right:
  • Recovery
  • Experiencing
  • Gratitude
  • Understanding
  • Loyalty
  • Accepting
  • Tolerance and
  • Obtaining
  • Rewards
  • Spiritually
Many of these folks were Narcotics Anonymous members, as Robbie was. The testimonies from friends and families were short but powerful. The "captain" of the group, a tattooed man in leather who walked with an obvious limp, spoke eloquently and passionately about the man whom he had sponsored in N.A. so many years ago, and how many people Robbie had befriended and helped along the way. Robbie was a BIG man - but it seems his heart was even bigger. His story was a story of redemption - and what a powerful story.

Many of these folks were REAL bikers - not just people like me who happen to ride a motorcycle. They looked and dressed the part. But as I have learned over the years, never
judge a book by its cover. Large imposing people often have hearts that match their size. "Rough looking" folks have often been weathered by life and have mastered disciplines and faithful lifestyles than many of us can only pray for. Both times that I have had motorcycle breakdowns, it was bikers that stopped both times to brings some tools or simple companionship to get me back on the road.

Some context: I have done more funerals this year that I care to count. Last week it was a couple that died in their sleep and a man who died from Parkinson's disease. I was getting depressed and fighting despair. Some preachers have been accused of being a "Marrying Sam", but I feared being called "Rev. Kevorkian." While the prospect of a biker funeral didn't really worry me, I worried about how church folks would handle men in leather vests and women in leather halters.

How did my church embrace these folks? With open arms. The funeral got started late - but folks waited patiently. And as is the tradition here at Reidland, a grief meal followed the funeral - and this time with food enough not only for the immediate family, but for EVERYONE gathered.

I cannot count the number of folks who came up to me and said how welcome they felt and how gracious my church was to them.

The Kingdom of God is like a lot of things. Sunday, it was like a biker funeral. I needed Sunday. It was a reminder to me of redemption and resurrection. God can do anything, if sometimes we will get out of the way.

Pax,
Sky+

7 comments:

Anthony said...

How true!!!!!!! I find that I am in God's way alot and that if I will get out of the way then all is fine. Thanks for this Sky!

God Bless,
Anthony Schaeffer

John Meunier said...

I love that line ... the kingdom is like a biker funeral. Thanks.

Colleen Sturma Reynolds said...

Words can not begin to express my gratitude for all you and the church members did to help celebrate my brother Robbie's life at his memorial service. Reading this has brought tears to my eyes. I hope you don't mind but I would like to share this link with his PALS, the Regulators. I'm sure they will be as equally touched.

God Bless and Be Safe,
Colleen Sturma Reynolds

Sky McCracken said...

By all means, Colleen!

Anonymous said...

Like my sister the words brought tears to my eyes also. Thank You so very much. You and the members of your Church are Awesome!

God Bless and Be Safe.
Mike Sturma

Anonymous said...

As my sister said, I was also brought to tears when I read this the first time and every time since. I have also read it to several friends of mine who only knew Robbie because of what I said about him, your words made him even more real. My mother is so blessed to be a part of your church, thank you so very much for everything you and your members did and continue doing for her. You, and your church members have restored my faith in religion and God that has been absent from my life for many years. I only wish that I could find a church with so much love where I live.Thank you again to you and all of your members,
Kathleen Sturma Chance and Family, Copperas Cove, Texas

Maureen Sturma said...

I agree with Colleen, that was a great piece. I felt that much closer to Rob as the service went on. I have been to services with Mom and you allmake me feel at home and loved. So I also want to thank you all for all the love you give to Mom and how you added us to your family!!!!!

Thanks!!!