There's much talk today about women needing recognition and, wanting to do something about it, it seemed a good day of the year--Maundy Thursday, when we celebrate our Lord's command that we follow his pattern in serving one another--to honor the woman who, more than anyone other than my own family members, revealed to me the glory of womanhood, femininity, and the humble service of motherhood. Would you please take the time to listen to this sermon preached at Mrs. James (Rita) Cuffey's funeral?
For eleven years Rita Cuffey was, other than my wife, my closest friend and wisest counselor. We met weekly and what a help those meetings were. Each time as she left, Rita would ask me what she could pray for me for? And since one of my most frequent prayer requests was that I would be faithful in my private devotional life, when she arrived one week, right out of the gate she asked if I'd had devotions, yet? One weeks the answer was "no," she'd cheerfully announce, "Well, I'll wait. You go ahead and have devotions and then we'll talk." I did while she patiently waited...
Rita was about as brilliant, intellectually, as any man or woman I've known--and I've known some bright ones.
Rita (and until his death, her husband "Jimmy") were family to us from the time we moved to Bloomington. They came to our children's birthday celebrations bearing gifts, usually classic books which never duplicated what our kids had already read. They submitted to our church's discipline. Jimmie, an emeritus professor of Astronomy here at IU with his Ph.D. from Harvard, had to be publicly rebuked one time for things he said in a Sunday school class the previous week. To their inestimable credit, neither Rita nor Jimmie bore any resentment about the elders' rebuke; instead, Jimmie's faith and honoring of the Word of God grew as a result of that rebuke. When Jimmie died, few who knew him over the years would have recognized his humble and meek and faith-full heart as he lay on his sick bed holding dear Rita's hand and breathing his last.
This could easily turn into a book about Rita--it's one more failure of mine that I haven't written more about her. But my purpose in this post is simply to provide the context for a link to this sermon preached at Rita's funeral, February 22, 2003.
One final request: If there's anyone willing to transcribe this sermon, I'd greatly appreciate the help. Would you please let me know by E-mail at tbbayly at gmail dot com.