Editor's note: About ten years ago I put together a book of Funeral Sermons to help other preachers prepare lessons for these events. In my opinion, the most eloquent and moving sermon in the book was the one prepared by Wayne Greeson for the funeral of a stillborn child. We live in an age when human life, especially that of an unborn child, is very cheap. Tears will probably flow as you read this sermon -- this is simply a reflection of the fact that you value human life and hold it dear.
We have come together this morning to lay to rest in the earth the tiny body of the infant of (name of mother and father withheld).
Why are we here? We do not come together to remember that child we lay to rest. Usually at funerals, the purpose of coming together beside the grave of the one who has died is to remember their life and recollect how they have touched us.
This child has faced death before the time of his birth. We did not have the opportunity to witness the joy and privilege of knowing this gift from God. We will never see him wrapped in his mother's arms or playing catch with his father. We will never see this child grow up.
Sadly, our world has placed little value upon children before they are born. Our government has declared that before birth children have no rights, not even the right to live! Daily, thousands of children lose their lives, not because of illness or accident, but because their mothers deliberately remove their own children from their bodies. Those unwanted, defenseless children do not even have the privilege of a funeral, a burial and a grave, but are treated as garbage.
We come together to declare to the world, this child that we bury today was a human being. This child was desperately wanted and loved by his parents.
The Bible calls those in the womb "children." (Gen. 25:22; 38:27; Eccl. 11:5; Luke 1:36, 44). "Lo, children are a heritage of Jehovah; and the fruit of the womb is her reward." (Psa. 127:3).
Psalms 139, verses 13 through 15 say, "For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ... My frame was not hidden from Thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth."
If only there were more fathers, like (name of father), who would recognize how precious a little boy is. If only there were more mothers, like (name of mother), who would desire children and understand that they are a gift from a gracious God.
We come together to comfort this child's parents. We cannot shed tears over a child we never had the chance to know. But, we can shed tears with his parents.
The Bible teaches us to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). Let each of us comfort these parents as we can. Let us encourage them. Let us pray for them in their time of sorrow.
What will we learn from the death of this child?
King David in the Old Testament faced the tragic grief of having a new born infant become very sick unto death. "...David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them" (2 Sam. 12:16-17).
After seven days of tears, prayers and fasting, the child died. When David found out that the child was dead "he arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped..." (2 Sam. 12:20).
His servants did not understand his sudden change at the death of the child. Before the child died, David had mourned. When the child died, David stopped mourning. David replied, "... he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:23).
As David, we have no need to cry for this child. David recognized that those that die as children are without sin and that their spirits return to our loving Father in heaven.
Likewise, we have no doubt about the destiny of the spirit of this pure and innocent child whose body we bury here. His little body we will place in the earth, but his spirit has returned to God who gave it!
We can be happy that this child is now with the Father. But, can you say what David said? David said of his dead child, "I shall go to him."
David believed that his life before God was such that when he died, he would be where his child was. The spirit of the child we are burying is with the Father.
Will you ever see this child again? Will you ever be with this child? Is your life such that you can say about this child, "I shall go to him"?
Do not let the death of this child be in vain. Listen to his voice from beyond the grave: "Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, please come where I am. I do so want to meet and talk with you."