Saturday, 25 November 2006

There is a Time for Everything: a Memorial Service Sermon—for Lori Williams

There is a time for everything, wrote King Solomon, and a season for every activity under heaven.

There was a time for Lori to be born and We’re glad for that. We are all richer for her presence in our lives. We’re here to celebrate Lori’s influence on our lives.

There is a time to kill, that sounds pretty tough on a day like this, but maybe there are some things we need to put to death today, for example, the urge to succumb to hopelessness or bitterness in our grief. To do that will delay or deny us our time to heal, which will come.

We’re entering a new season in our lives because of Lori’s death. That means it’s a time to keep some things: special mementoes and precious memories of our time with Lori, but the new season also brings with it a time to throw away, to scatter some things and a time to tear down some others. As all that work gets done, you come into the time to build, to heal, and to mend as you head into the next season of our lives. It won’t happen in a day. This ceremony isn’t the end of the process—it’s a continuation.

We continue this new season with this time to mourn, perhaps to weep more tears, because of our grief, and yet at the same time, we laugh because of the stories we share and the fond memories we have. If we were in another culture, we might even treat this as a time to dance.

This is, very definitely, a time to embrace one another and support one another. This is not a time to refrain from embracing. This is also, however, a time when it is important for some of us to be silent and let those who are grieving speak—all the speaking they need to do—even to repeat themselves and tell the same stories over and over again. It’s a time for us friends to listen and to let them talk their feelings out. Then when it is time to speak, we do so sparingly without giving advice or telling them what they should or should not be doing as they grieve.

There is a time for everything, wrote King Solomon, and a season for every activity under heaven. Lori was born, lived a rich life and her time came to die. One day our time will also come. That can be a disturbing thought, especially at times like this.

So, Jesus talking: "Don't be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there."

I suspect many of us, like Thomas would say to him, "No, we don't know, Lord, we haven't any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus answered Thomas, and us, by saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” What do we do with that?
There is a time for everything, wrote King Solomon, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Thanks to Lori, we have this time and season to think on life and death and what we’ve heard, to examine our lives and how we’re living them.

Two things to think about today: first, am I making the most of the time I’ve been given, especially with regard to my relationships? Do the people I love know it? Why not make a point of telling and showing them today. Tomorrow may be too late. That would be a good way to remember and honour Lori Williams.

Second, is Jesus speaking the truth? Has he in fact gone on to prepare rooms for us in our Father’s heavenly home? Do we want one of those rooms? What activity would be most likely to result in a reservation in this season of our lives? Jesus said trust, or believe in, have faith in, me. He also said “No one can come to the Father except through me.” A remarkable, even disturbing, claim. But then, ceremonies like these remind us of an equally disturbing reality…that we, too, will all have our time to die. Next year, next month, or even next week might be too late, so why not take some of the time we have been given in this season of our lives to investigate His life and teachings? For some of us it might be for the first time, for others a refresher. He is to be found in three places: in the Bible, in His church and in people who are his devoted and committed followers. That, too, would be a excellent way to remember and honour our sister, Lori.