Bernice King

Remarks at the Memorial Service for Yolanda King

delivered 24 May 2007, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio.]

Hear my cry, Oh Lord; attend unto to my prayer. From the ends of the earth will I cry unto you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to a rock that is higher than I.1

God never makes a mistake, and I think I need to say that for someone else, that God never makes a mistake. In His providence, He knew that we needed to be here at Ebenezer, which stands for a rock. Because I must admit that this has been one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, losses that Iíve ever experienced in my life, more so even than my -- my mother. And I want to -- before I say anything else -- I want to thank each and every one of you from the depths of my heart for your presence, for your prayers, and for your support. This has been a very mammoth task, as it was even in my motherís case, and an incredible balancing act trying to represent the life of Yolanda Scott -- Yolanda Denise King. As so weíre going to ask that you just continue to keep us in your prayers.

And I have some questions. Iím not going to say that I donít question God 'cause I -- I got some questions. And me and God are taking that up right now 'cause I miss my sister. And there are four words that I can use to add to Dexterís, as he said, that she certainly is not confined to --but for me in a special way, probably more than anybody else in this room. She often addressed me as her "one and only" -- her one and only sister. Itís very, very difficult standing here, left as her one and only sister. But I know that God is going to sustain all of us, as He always does through the transition and through the stages and through the challenges. And we will make it and it will all make sense by and by. And I recognize that God doesnít always answer every one of your questions, but He has a way through time and through experiences of providing you a glimpse of an answer that gives you a peace that passes all understanding. And so today I give glory to God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Twenty days before Yolanda fell, I was on a trip, receiving an award posteriously [sic] for my father for the 50th anniversary of -- of Ghana -- Ghanaís independence, in D.C.

And I returned in town on Wednesday, April the 25th, two days before my motherís 80th -- would have been her 80th birthday, to something that somewhat startled me. I drove up in my driveway, and the largest tree in my yard had fallen. I didnít quite understand at that time what that was really about. And now I understand: God has a way of doing things to get us ready and to prepare us. He sends images and He sends experiences and things along the way. And I want to say something because when the tree fell, and I went up, and I looked around. One thing about it, when a tree falls, whatís left is a big hole. That tree is still there, just symbolically. Iíve been getting quotes to handle it, but itís there symbolically for me to remember the life of my sister.

But I want to just one minute say something about that hole, because when Yolanda fell she left a hole in many of our hearts, not in a bad sense, but there is a -- an incredible void in our lives now because of what she represented. And interestingly enough, in order to fill that hole you can do one of two things. You can either bring in some Georgia red clay and pack it real tight so that the ground will not do any unnecessary shifting, or you can pack it with some debris from the trees and then bring in a little bit of dirt. But the problem with that is, over time that hole will recreate itself, as the -- as the trees begin to continue -- the dead tree limbs continue to deteriorate.

And so God just wanted me to say to each one of us to be careful during this time that the whole is in your heart, and the void is there. He said, "My sheep know My voice and a stranger will they not entertain."2 And anytime you have a shocking loss, anytime you have a surprising loss, you become very vulnerable. There are all kinds of emotions that will come up and express themselves. In many instances, you can come out of character. And God just wanted me to say to you, listen to His voice and do not entertain the voice of any stranger, so that the hole can be filled sufficiently.

And as I take my seat this is what He said: He said, "Rejoice during this time in the Lord always; again I say rejoice." Let your gentleness be known to all men for the Lord is at hand."3 But then He said, Be anxious -- Donít stress about it, Donít get on edge about it, Donít even worry about it -- "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication"4 -- but donít forget to thank God; Hallelujah, anyhow God, we bless Your holy and Your righteous name, God; we honor You and respect You just for being who You are as Jehovah-jireh and Jehovah-rapha and Jehovah-nissi and Jehovah-shalom -- with thanksgiving make your request known -- not unto men and not unto nay-sayers -- but make your request known unto God.6

But then it goes onto say something that I think is so critical because whenever we make our request and our -- our -- our issues known unto men, men have a tendency to just mess up things. They say things they shouldnít say. So He says in the peace of God which surpasses all understanding -- and I might add a little Bernice isogesis5, not exegesis -- and misunderstanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. And He said as you fill your hole, finally brothren, 'cause the mind will do a work on you. It will cause you to think many things. It will cause you to drift into zones that you donít need to drift into. So He says, "Finally [brethren]," -- and I say sistren -- "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report" -- just think on the good reports, meditate on the good memories, meditate on the good moments -- "think on these things."6

Thank you all. We love you. God bless you. And Yolanda, from your one and only, I thank you for being a sister, for being a friend. And as any family, you donít agree on everything; but one thing I appreciate is the example of my mother and father who taught each one of us that love conquers all.

God bless.


Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 Psalm 61:1-2

2 John 10:4-5, 27-28

3 Philippians: 4:4-5

4 Philippians: 4:6

5 "Reading something into a document. One starts with a belief and searches a document for supporting passages. Often used with reference to the Bible. A potential hazard is that the interpreter may quote a verse out of context with considering the rest of the passage or the rest of the Bible" (TranslationDictionary.com).

6 Philippians: 4:6

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