29 July 2016

Strong Foundation

Bruce E. Mouer
July 27, 1953 - July 23, 2016
A eulogy I delivered at my uncle’s memorial service on July 27, 2016.

Good morning.

As I was thinking about what to share this morning, a number of things came to mind, but two specific memories really resonated with me.
The first is a bit of a family secret. You know how every family has some unspoken rules? Well, in our family, there’s this rule that us grandkids needed the approval of certain members of the family before we could even think about getting married to whoever it was that we were dating. Well, in our family, both Nana and Bruce served in that role!

In fact, the first memory I had of Uncle Bruce on Saturday morning after I learned of his passing, and the one that brought tears to my eyes, was his unqualified “approval” of Angie as a potential wife after meeting her for the first time. It was a big deal to me. BTW: I also got Nana’s approval shortly thereafter! And have been happily married to Angie for 8 years!

The second memory occurred more recently. At some point in 2014 or 2015 I heard that Uncle Bruce was interested in learning to play the banjo. In April of last year I was listening to some music on my way to work one day that featured a banjo...so my thoughts turned to Uncle Bruce and God laid it on my heart to put together a collection of songs that were meaningful to me to share with him and encourage him. A couple of Sunday mornings later, my phone rang. I distinctly remember this because it’s not common that your phone rings at 7:30 on a Sunday morning! I was getting ready for church so I didn't get to it, but what I found ten minutes later was a voicemail from Uncle Bruce thanking me for the music, telling me how much it meant to him and telling me how much he loved my family. A week or two later he emailed me a short note thanking me again and sharing that God had blessed him in so many ways and that my family was part of that blessing. It was a huge encouragement to hear from Uncle Bruce in this manner, and a blessing to know that the music I shared found a home in his heart.

I also wanted to share more of a general observation of Bruce's life. We know that Uncle Bruce could build a good house, whether through carpentry or plumbing. He would be the first to tell you that the foundation was the most important part of the house. Whether that be the concrete upon which the framing of the house was set, or the furnace that served as the foundation of a heating system. But, more importantly, Uncle Bruce understood the importance of having a solid foundation in his personal life. And, for him, that foundation was built upon the rock of Jesus Christ.

By the grace of God, Uncle Bruce was a man of great faith. He wasn't the kind to stand on a soapbox and tell the world about it, but I'm almost certain that if you ever got him alone, and engaged in the right conversation, he would tell you what Jesus meant in his life. That Jesus had rescued him many times over. See, he understood that in the greater design of God's redemptive plan, true life is ultimately offered through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

In one of Jesus' teachings, he said this:
“[E]veryone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” [Matthew 7:24-27].

Now, this is a familiar passage to most of us. But don't miss the point here. This is not a teaching on storm avoidance – both houses faced the storm!* No, this was Jesus telling us that his way of life, the path he sets out for us in the Bible, is not meant to be a bunch of rules and regulations that hold us back and weigh us down, but a path to true life...a path to freedom…a path that opens us up to the power and transformative work of Jesus in our lives.

Uncle Bruce understood that Jesus was both the door to heaven and the path in this world that leads us into a new way of living.* He understood that the door and the path work together.* And the proof of this shown through in the way Uncle Bruce lived. For instance: All of the times he volunteered to run emergency plumbing calls on Christmas to ensure that the guys with young kids didn't have to go out. Later in life, he ran his business with honesty and integrity. In the way that he treated and loved Aunt Tammy. And the way he loved and nurtured Syndi.

He also had a firm understanding of the power of Jesus. He never missed the opportunity to tell you that Jesus healed the cancer that invaded his body a number of years ago. And I'm almost certain that until he drew his final breath, he fully believed in his heart that Jesus would heal him again.

The last interaction I personally had with Uncle Bruce was on July 4th, when a number of other family members and I gathered around him and Aunt Tammy and prayed for strength and healing. You see, I too fully believed in my heart that Jesus would heal him completely. And I don't say that lightly. Jesus did not choose to heal him here on earth, but to give Uncle Bruce an ultimate healing, that of a new and perfect body in Heaven. As family and friends, we certainly mourn his death, and will miss him greatly, but we do so in full knowledge and understanding of God's promises about what happens next…eternal life in the presence of Jesus.

Grace and peace be with you.

*Taken from the sermon, The Choice IsYours, by Pastor George Davis