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Perhaps Bill's sincere beliefs and honest faith are best stated in a memorial service written by him two years ago for one of his departed friends. This I will now read to you.
We have come together here on this occasion to commemorate the passing, by death, of one of our friends. This we do in accordance with the customs and usages of our day. In a time of stress it is comforting to follow the traditions of the past.
Our comrade faced death with grace and courage. We all will miss him. But our sorrow at his passing should be tempered by the realization that once again a human being has graduated from this life in the flesh--has graduated to embark upon the great adventure of the quest for God.
And what a life to graduate from! What a life of joys and sorrows, of pleasure and pain, of security and uncertainty, of altruism and selfishness, of love and fear. The Creator, being all-powerful, could doubtless have designed a different type of world for us to group up in--could have designed some Utopia, an Eden, or an earthly Paradise. But would such a perfect Eden have contributed to the development of those strong, noble, and experienced characters which seem to be in process of being so surely forged out here on earth between the anvil of necessity and the hammer of anguish?
And if such characters of strength and nobility are at a premium as the end-product of human experience, then perhaps that destiny which awaits man in the vast universe may contain those adventures and those challenges which put a premium on such moral strength and nobility of purpose.
We all stand on the brink of a great adventure, the challenging adventure of the quest for God. As ascendant children of time we must learn to feast upon uncertainty, to fatten upon disappointment, to enthuse over apparent defeat, to invigorate in the presence of difficulties, to exhibit indomitable courage in the face of immensity, and to exercise unconquerable faith when confronted with the challenge of the inexplicable. Long since, the battle cry of ascendant pilgrims has become: "In liaison with God, nothing--absolutely nothing--is impossible."
If this quest for God, if the ultimate finding of God--if this also be God's purpose--then who or what can stop us? "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else shall be able to separate us from the love of God."
There is in the mind of God a plan which embraces every creature of all his vast domains, and this plan is an eternal purpose of boundless opportunity, unlimited progress, and endless life, and the infinite treasures of such a matchless career are ours for the striving!
But how shall we find the way? For we are all human; we are all forgetful; we are all inconstant. We are all troubled with doubts of failure and by perplexing confusions. Even so, if we truly have faith we can hardly question the final outcome, for in every dark hour, at every crossroad in the forward struggle, surely God's spirit will speak, saying, "This is the way."
When the clouds of doubt gather overhead, our faith should accept the fact of the presence of the Spirit of God, and thus should we be able to look beyond the mists of mortal uncertainty into the clear shining of the sun of eternal righteousness on the beckoning heights of the many mansions in our "Father's House.
So sang the shepherd boy of long ago:
The Gods are my caretakers; I shall not stray.
Side by side they lead me in the beautiful paths and the glorious refreshing of life everlasting.
I shall not, in this Divine Presence, want for food nor thirst for water.
Though I go down into the valley of uncertainty or ascend up into the worlds of doubt,
Though I move in loneliness or with the fellows of my kind,
Though I triumph in the choirs of light or falter in the solitary places of the spheres,
Your good spirit shall minister to me, and your glorious angel will comfort me.
Though I descend into the depth of darkness and death itself,
I shall not doubt you nor fear you,
For I know that in the fullness of time and the glory of your name
You will raise me up to sit with you on the battlements on high.
And as the shepherd boy sang so long ago, so may we pray today:
Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed by your name,
Your kingdom come; your will be done
On earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today our bread for tomorrow;
Refresh our souls with the water of life.
And forgive us every one our debts
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
Save us in temptation; deliver us from evil;
And increasingly make us perfect like yourself.