Timothy J. Keller Memorial Service

By Gospel in Life

You can watch the full recording of the service above. Below is an excerpt from the service when Kathy Keller spoke:

You may have noticed that this isn’t the usual sort of memorial service, except for Graham and Glenn and me giving a few thoughts. That’s because Tim wrote it himself just the way he liked to do funerals for other people. You mention the dead person, certainly, but then you talk about the God that that person is now facing.

So blame Tim if there aren’t videos and choirs and lengthy testimonials. At our first church in Hopewell, Tim was known for his funerals. In fact, when an unchurched person came through the J.T Morris funeral home, they would call up Tim and say, “Hey, could you do this guy’s funeral? He doesn’t have any pastor.” And Tim would always do it. 

So there’s just a few things I want to tell you. First, Tim is buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, the one you can see on your right when you’re on the Grand Central Parkway on your way out to Laguardia. But that place is huge and you couldn’t find the grave even if you tried.

But please don’t try, and here’s why I don’t want you to. You know those scenes in movies like at the end of Saving Private Ryan, where someone has a heart-to-heart talk standing at the headstone of the deceased person? Tim and I were always uncomfortable with those, because the person isn’t actually there. 

At Tim’s burial, I said to my family, “Please don’t come out here and stand over the grave and pour out your feelings. You will be talking to the grass.” There isn’t even a headstone yet. Tim is with Jesus – healed, loved, more alive and happier than he has ever been. He’s not here.

Having mentioned the headstone, I will tell you I have been considering various Bible verses for it when I get around to ordering it. Let me tell you my favorite right now. 

In chapter 25 of Isaiah, the prophet begins talking about God’s final redemption and restoration. He says:

In that day [meaning the day that God puts everything right] on this mountain, the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine, the best meat and finest of wines. On this mountain, he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations. He will swallow up death forever. The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces. The Lord has spoken. In that day, they will say surely this is our God. We trusted in him and he saved us. This is our Lord. We trusted in him. Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation. 

That’s Isaiah 25:6-9. That’s not what I’m going to put on the headstone. It would have to be like 20 feet high. That’s just context.

In the next chapter, Isaiah 26, these two verses I think might be appropriate on the headstone. Verse 12 and verse 16.

In that day, this song will be sung. All that we have accomplished you have done for us. Your dead will live, Lord. Their bodies will rise. Let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy. 

Isaiah was speaking of a future reality with no more death or tears. Tim is living in that reality now. How I yearn for all of us to trust the God he now worships face to face, so that one day we may all sit down to that feast together.

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