Mother’s Funeral Sermon

By J. Kenneth Doty

Good morning, friends and family members. Speaking for the family of Rose Ellen Griffin Doty, I extend a welcome and our appreciation for your attendance. I address these remarks to my mother’s children and their spouses, my sibling brothers and sisters. I speak to her grand children, to her great grand children, and to her great, great grandchildren. Mother loved music and to have her grand children present themselves as such a beautiful choir, it is most fitting. As a family we are so grateful that so many of you could be here today. Mother had her greatest joy when she considered her vast progeny. She said over and over and over, “I have the greatest family in the world.” She loved to see us all together. Reunions were the highlights of her life. So today we have a glorious reunion of her family. I also extend our welcome and appreciation to all of you brothers and sisters in the Gospel, friends and neighbors, who have come to pay your respects to Rose. We know you knew her and loved her very much, and we appreciate the care you extended to her.

I need to speak for a moment about the pioneer heritage that flows in our blood. I cannot return to this community, the home of my youth and childhood, without a thrill that can only be the love of the Hills of Home. For the younger members of the family, I need to explain that there were no malls to visit; no parks to play in; no organized soccer or little league. But we had Slide Rock, Castle Rock, Eagle Rock, and Prayer Rock; we had the Shoshone River and the Sidon Canal in which many of us were baptized; we had our school and the Church. Whenever I see these familiar landmarks, the memories are numerous. Our ‘fun’ was the hike it took to get to these places.

I am increasingly proud of my heritage. To think of my mother’s parents making what must have been their honeymoon trek to this arid wilderness in 1893 and bearing their first child in 1894, with no doctors and no hospital and not much of a home to live in; to know of what they did to help establish this community; to realize how much they had to rely on just themselves – well, there is a story of heroic pioneer proportions. We could correctly say that they had the “right stuff.” But we, their descendants, must know that we have the same “right stuff” flowing in our veins and in our genes. We can, and we must, continue in the direction they pointed us. For us to do less is to minimize what they did.

That pioneer heritage is eternally linked to, and interwoven with, the Gospel heritage that also lives within us all. Being the firstborn of Rose, I knew her when she was young, strong, vibrant, and heard firsthand of her experiences in her childhood growing up in this pioneer community. When I think of her I get a feeling akin to those of the stripling warriors we read about in the Book of Mormon who said, “we do not doubt that our mothers knew it.” While I dare not compare myself with those stripling warriors, I can say without reservation, I never doubted that my mother knew it. Even when there were doubts in my own life, I never doubted that she knew it!

What did she know? She knew what her parents knew: that the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. She knew that the ordinances of the Gospel were vital and she knew the importance of temples. We, her descendants, must know that, we must learn that, we must discover that for ourselves, for that is the truth. Only if you are unafraid of truth will you ever find it. That is the real purpose of this life in which we now find ourselves.

I spoke a moment ago about family reunions. I must remind you all of another reunion that is going on, perhaps even today – even now. And that is Mother’s reunion with her husband and our father; with her son Oris; with her father and mother, Will and Sally Griffin; with her son-in-law, Dee Ray. We could go on listing more and more of her progenitors who are rejoicing in her return to their presence and to the presence of her Heavenly Father.

Paul the Apostle said in his epistle to the Corinthians: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept.”

We have just completed a celebration of Easter, the commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In my own ward we had our choir present the Easter portion of Handel’s Messiah. I was asked to sing a solo as a part of that presentation. Never did the words sing more forcibly to my soul than when I sang these lyrics less than a day after my mother had died. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised, be raised incorruptible.” I know that Mother has been raised. We need to know that. What God has established for us is real and is exactly true.

I wish to speak frankly about some important facets of the Gospel. In the third article of faith we read: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This is indicative of a divine plan put in place by God himself. We must understand that plan because we are now living in a phase of that plan.

Resurrection for all men has been guaranteed by the Atonement of the Savior. But the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith has taught us that there is more to the plan than resurrection. There is “salvation” and “exaltation.” To obtain these we must have the ordinances of the Gospel. They are often referred to as the saving ordinances of the Gospel. Let me tell you what they are and how one may obtain them.

These ordinances are:
1) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.
2) Confirmation by the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Ghost.
3) (This applies only to male members of the Church) Ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood.
4) The Endowment
5) The Sealing

These last two ordinances are available only in the Temples of the Lord. Why is there such importance attached to the endowment and sealing in the temple? D&C 131 tells us: “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage).” This ordinance ensures the eternal relationships of families.

The Gospel plan had its inception in the eternities before the world was created. In the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Abraham describes the creation in an intriguing manner. It explains the creation process was accomplished by the ordering of it. Saying in one verse, “And it was so, even as they (the gods) ordered.” In another verse saying, “It was so as they ordered.” In yet another verse explaining, “That the Gods saw that they were obeyed.” And again in another, “And the gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.” And finally when we read, “And the gods saw that they would be obeyed, and that their plan was good.” That description pertains to the creation of the earth as we know it today. All things obeying and operating as they were ordered and commanded.

But when they created man, their ultimate creation, and the reason for creating this world, the gods did something different. They explained to mankind what we should do and what we should not do, but then said to man, “Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself.” The world and all its elements will perform by order and commandment but man has a choice. He is to find, by faith, his own way back to the presence of God. That fundamental right is explained in the 58th section of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord tells us, “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”

Focus on these three words from that scripture: FREEWILL, POWER, and AGENCY. These are gifts from God NOT given to any of his other creations. Moreover, each of us has been given, in addition to those gifts just mentioned, talents, abilities, sense, reason, and judgment. And he expects us to use hem to work out our salvation and exaltation by obtaining and participating in the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

In another scripture, section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord again tells us: “There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven, before the foundation of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated – and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” This may be oversimplification, but I believe that we must first learn the law, then live the law, and then we will receive the blessings. Not that quick or easy since it takes time to learn the law and even more time to demonstrate that we can and will live the law. But as surely as you do that the blessings will be yours. Obedience will never go unrewarded. The Lord has also said, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”

Now hold the life of Rose Doty to these standards. Can there be any doubt for her reward? There is no doubt in me! For these reasons I say this is a day of rejoicing. A day of fulfillment. A day of reunion.

Therefore I pray that the descendants of Rose Griffin Doty will this day renew their commitment to live as she would wish us to live; that we will learn to forgive one another as she always forgave; that we can fill our lives as she did with love of family, love of neighbors, and the love of God; that we will have a driving desire to join her one day in her mansion on high.

Remember, if you are not as close to the Lord today as you were yesterday or as you ought to be, guess who moved? The Lord says, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” The surest way to draw near unto Him is in His Holy House and in His service.

I know that God lives! I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and that He is our Savior and our Redeemer. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God; that he saw what he said he saw and heard what he said he heard. I know that the Book of Mormon is the pure word of God. I know that we live by virtue of the Gospel plan and that we can receive guidance from God through prayer, for I know He hears and answers our prayers. I know that the laws and ordinances of the Gospel are essential to our exaltation and eternal life.

I leave this witness with you in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


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