Today, my family celebrates the life and commemorates the death of my grandfather, O. Dean Watson.  Although I was unable to attend the memorial service, I wrote a few thoughts that I shared with my family.

Grandpa, you lived your life full of virtue–anyone who met you, and especially those who knew you well and loved you dearly, could immediately see that. You lived daily with immense compassion, purposeful integrity, and limitless generosity. Your words were always graced with good will, and you found—and brought out—the best in everyone, revealing to family, friends and strangers alike the love of God which filled your heart and soul.

And as if these great virtues were not sufficient, your life was marked indelibly by the deep faith which you held out for all to see. In good times and in bad, in rejoicing and in suffering, you always demonstrated the abiding trust you had in the promises of our Heavenly Father, a trust which you worked tirelessly and to your final days to cultivate in your family, your friends, and every person with whom you had a moment’s opportunity to fellowship. Even in the face of death, your confidence did not waiver, and courageously you entrusted yourself to the grace and mercy of Christ, leaving an enduring testament to those of us who remain of the power of faith.

So Grandpa, in our faith which has been refreshed by yours, we remember your life and find peace in your death. This peace comes because the faith which you cultivated in our hearts enables us to look beyond the surface of the matter. With our human eyes, we see death as the end, as finality. Death is a time of darkness, for the deep pain and sadness of loss are mingled with reminders of our own mortality. We are truly tempted to despair, for how can dust be anything other than dust? How can that which has been destroyed be yet made whole?

But Grandpa, you taught us to see with the eyes of faith. You fostered within each of us a trust in the promises of Christ and in the power of God to look beyond the dark and narrow world that can be perceived. Yours was a faith that recognized and embraced the bright and wide vistas of the life which the Father has prepared for those who love God.

It is then, through the same faith, that we find comfort and confidence. Though the darkness of pain and sorrow in death are real and ever present, our trust in the promises of Christ compels us to rise above despair and hopelessness. We commit ourselves to the goodness and love of the Father, knowing that the One who first breathed life into dust is the very same One who will restore and transform this dust in the newness of resurrection life.

Grandpa, we love you and thank you for the gift of faith that you left with us. Though we mourn because the pain of loss is real, we do so not without hope, but rather with confidence that the life and love which we have shared together has not come to an end, but has only just begun. We look forward with great anticipation to the day when we will be reunited and share life everlasting together, each of us made whole by the great power and infinite love of our Heavenly Father.