This story was written many years ago in response to a fan fiction challenge involving death. The story was never finished, but I thought this section of it would be appropriate to share now.
The Funeral of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane
The low murmur of voices quieted in reverence as the minister neared the front of the sanctuary. People quickly took their seats. The minister laid his notes on the podium and surveyed the audience. He cleared his throat, shuffled the papers, and then began his funeral sermon.
“I am very heartened today to see so many familiar and even some unfamiliar faces here today to honor our fallen sheriff, Rosco Coltrane.”
The minister bowed his head for a moment, collecting his thoughts and glancing at his notes. Sniffles could be heard throughout the room during the momentary silence.
“While it is natural to grieve for Rosco, we must also celebrate. We must celebrate his life and we must celebrate his death. For in death, he has achieved eternal life. For the scriptures say, in Revelations 21:4, ‘death is the end of troubles, trials, pain, sorrow, and fear.’ We should rejoice for Rosco! Who here would not want eternal life, with no pain, no sorrow, none of the troubles that plague us in this life?”
Many audience members nodded in agreement. The minister walked towards the casket and gestured to it.
“This body here, many of you may think is your friend, your kin, the acquaintance you know as Rosco Coltrane. But it is not. It is just a vessel. His spirit has already gone to be with the Lord. A famous preacher once explained during a funeral sermon that the body being emptied of the soul is very much like a pecan. ‘All we have left is the empty shell, the nut is gone.’”
The mourners laughed despite their tears. Many of them thought to themselves just how true that assessment was. The minister shook his head, laughed, and then confessed softly “I’ve always loved that one.”
The minister’s smile faded slowly and he continued the sermon.
“In Ecclesiastes 12:7, the Bible tells us ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.’ And that’s where our brother Rosco’s spirit is now, with his Creator. Be comforted by that truth. Find joy in it, brothers and sisters. For all of us here shall find that joy and that truth some day ourselves.”
The minister made a wide sweeping gesture with his arm. “I think it can honestly be said that Rosco had an impact on every person here today. He also had an impact on Mrs. Baxley’s trash cans, Mr. Terwilliger’s fence, the Hazzard Theater, Rhuebottom’s General Store, most of the trees on Route 7-11, and Hazzard Pond.”
The church erupted in laughter again. Several folks shook their heads, admitting “Yeah, that’s Rosco alright.” The Dukes were especially amused, considering it was while Rosco chased them that most of those ‘impacts’ occurred.
“But seriously, none of you would be here today if Sheriff Coltrane hadn’t somehow touched your life, made an impact in it. He served this community many, many years as best he could. He wasn’t perfect,” the minister confessed. “But none of us are. We are all sinners who need the grace of God. But all is forgiven and made perfect, through Christ, for those that believe in Him.”
The minister talked for another fifteen minutes or so, touching on Rosco’s life and what heaven had in store for him. He ended the sermon with a request for the audience members.
“As we leave here today, I want all of you to think about Rosco, what he meant to you, what he meant to this community. While I was writing this sermon, I did a lot of just that. It’s very hard to sum up just who a person was, but I’ll give it my best try…”
“The Rosco I knew was quick to find the joy in life, loved to laugh… boy, did he love to laugh,” the minister smiled, as did most of the audience, silently recalling the sheriff’s trademark giggle. The minister glanced at Rosco’s friends and family, “He was fiercely loyal to those he loved.” The minister then turned his attention to the casket, “He was a person worth knowing. He was a kind and gentle soul that will be missed. We must say our last goodbyes, brother Rosco, but know that you won’t soon be forgotten.”