G R A V E S I D E S E R V I C E
Philip Herman Davis
October 13, 1925 — October 14, 2016
2:00 pm, October 22, 2016
Pine Bush Cemetery, Kerhonkson, New York
I think Grandpa would like it if we started with Scripture, and here the Scripture states the problem we face, from the difficult and troubling book of Ecclesiastes.
The writer of Ecclesiastes is called Qoheleth, “The Preacher.” The Preacher says:
A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-2. It is better to go to a funeral than a wedding reception!
We stand here with the body of a man with a good name, who was held in good repute in his community, yet who lived in deep humility. To have a good name when you die is a wonderful blessing — it leads to this group standing and considering Philip Herman Davis’s life and legacy, and speaking about him in the memorial service at 4:00.
And Grandpa would have wanted us to take to heart the reality of his death.
But this is not the last word.
Grandpa would want us to take to heart the reality of our own deaths.
Someday some will stand at a grave for you, and consider your name and your life. Perhaps it will be a large family like this one. Maybe it will just be one or two acquaintances. But your body will probably be in a container to be placed in the ground, with a word from a son-in-law or someone who knew you.
But that will not be the last word.
The end of Ecclesiastes states:
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. And that is frightening, or should be, for each of us have done countless things for which we would prefer not to be judged. We would far rather have some of the choices we have made and things we have done and words we have said be dropped from consideration, or treated as mere rehearsal or simply overlooked. We want to cry out, “Please, measure us by our best choices.”
But Ecclesiastes says “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
And yet still, that is not the last word.
Jesus, when he had come to show us what God is truly like, showed both compassion and judgment, and taught and acted out a life of righteousness in joy and sorrow,
pleasure and pain, triumph and tragedy, but at the end of his short life he prayed this prayer:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Luke 23:34. And by this he did not mean that his executioners did not understand what they were doing, but that they were ignorant, and misled and deceived and Jesus asked his Father to let the punishment fall on him instead of them.
Paul said it like this:
For while we were still weak, at the right time [Jesus] died for  ungodly [people like us]. For [hardly anyone would] die for a righteous person . . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, [Jesus] died for us. . . . [We] have now been justified by [Jesus’] blood, [and certainly] saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:6-10. “Weak,” “ungodly,” “enemies.” That’s who we are, and honestly, that’s who Philip Herman Davis was.
He would not have denied it.
But 36 years ago, in June 1980, he was reconciled to God by what Jesus did when Jesus died. Jesus saved Grandpa from God’s judgment on his life. Thereafter, God would judge Grandpa’s life on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness, not on the basis of Grandpa’s own righteousness.
At the end of his life — but just (mercifully) in the last couple of months of his life — Grandpa felt his body failing him. He might have felt like Paul did, knowing he was near the end, when he wrote his protégé, Timothy:
I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8.
And from where I stand, I completely believe that Grandpa
fought the good fight, . . .
finished the course, . . .
kept the faith . . . .
And so I believe that when Grandpa stepped across the threshold from this life, and
as he slipped out of this body that we are burying today, and when he left this earth on (as we reckon it) October 14, 2016, he heard these words:
Well done, good and faithful servant.
You have been faithful over a little;
I will set you over much.
Enter into the joy of your master.
And that is the last word.
May we each consider these things and live so as to hear those very words when we ourselves meet the Judge of every man and woman.