Friday, 8 June 2007

125 Minutes: A Funeral Sermon for Infant Nicholas Wyatt Usher

With reference to Ecclesiastes 3.1-8 and Luke 18.15-17

I remember reading once about someone who asked a pastor to say a little prayer about something. To which the pastor—a famous one I seem to remember—replied, “There is no such thing as a little prayer.”

Today I want you to know that there is no such thing as a little life, either. Nicholas’s body may have been little. His life with us on earth may have been short—just 125 minutes outside his mother’s womb—but his was not a little life. No life is. God made Nicholas and made his life full and complete.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Nicholas has his season and his time—his 125 minutes—because of Jonathan and Christie’s courage and determination. Despite nine months or so which must have been very difficult, they did all they could do to make sure that Nicholas had his time to be born. They allowed Nicholas to be planted in their family, they wept and mourned, they embraced him for most of his 125 minutes, they kept him, rather than throwing him away, they spoke about what was happening to them and how they were feeling to one another, their families and the other folk dealing with Trisomy families on the web. They made war on any temptation to give him up—fought so that Nicholas could have as much life as possible.

In the passage from Luke we heard about the people who were bringing even their infants to Jesus that he might touch them. Jonathan and Christie did that. During his 125 minutes, they made sure that Jesus got to touch Nicholas in his Baptism. They made sure Nicholas got to Jesus, for to such as Nicholas belongs the kingdom of God.

Well done Jonathan and Christie. Do did not allow Nicholas’s life to be little. Good job.

And now, what about us who are left still living our seasons and times—healing, building up, weeping, laughing, mourning and dancing, seeking and losing? Nicholas is with Jesus in the kingdom of God. We just heard that Jesus said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” What can we learn from those words and from Nicholas’s 125 minutes?

A couple of thoughts:

Jesus, the one to whom Jonathan and Christie brought Nicholas, lived a short life on earth, too. Not as short as Nicholas’s, but short. And yet his was the most fruitful human life ever lived. Shortness of life does not necessarily mean waste or lack of meaning or fruitlessness. Nicholas may only have lived outside of his mother’s womb on earth for 125 minutes, but who knows what the effects and fruit of short but full life will be?

The kingdom of God is not to be taken or earned by our cleverness, good deeds, long life or anything else. It is to be received. Nicholas was not able to take anything but a few breaths. All he could do is receive what God provided for him through his parents. We are all as helpless before God. All we can ever do is, trusting in God’s goodness and love, say something like this:

God, in Jesus, you are offering me something so wonderful that I can hardly understand it. Lord, even though I don’t deserve it, I receive it, help my lack of receiving it and my efforts to take it in my own strength. May I receive my citizenship in your kingdom like Nicholas did. Please touch me like you did Nicholas and those children we read about Luke, and wrap me in your arms of Love. In Nicholas’s memory, may my life, from now on, be one that helps others to receive your kingdom, too.”