Thursday, 26 March 2009

A Short Funeral Sermon with reference to 1 Cor 13 and John 14.1-6: for Tom Slobodin

Times like this can often be a sort of reset button time. What do I mean by that? We’re forced to face the reality of death when a loved one dies. When we do that we tend to re-examine priorities and what’s really important in our lives and we might decide to hit the reset button to “reboot” our lives, as it were, so we can get rid of the relational and spiritual viruses that we’ve allowed to get into our lives. Over time those viruses can conflict with the most important things in our lives to the point where our priorities get corrupted and we lose our way in our relationships and our spirituality.

Think about our relationships, for example. We’re here because we all had a relationship with Tom or with a member of his family. Belinda, Brent, Debbie and Darrell and their families are all here because of the relationship between Tom and Pat.

Times like this (and I experience many of them because of my job) always remind me that my relationships are the most important things in my life. Sometimes, probably more often than I like to admit, times like this remind me that I need to push the reset button on this or that relationship, to reboot it and get it back on track.

That first reading is about what keeps relationships healthy and alive. Love is what does it—not sweet talking, prophetic powers, cleverness, faith, or sacrifice—but love. And this is not the warm-fuzzy kind of love, the romantic kind people fall into, it is the stronger than death kind, an act of the will, the John 3.16, for God so loved the world kind, the kind that is patient, bears, believes, hopes and endures all things for the sake of the other. That does not envy, boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful. The kind that never ends and is far, far greater than faith and hope.

Your relationship with Tom has come to an end. How are your remaining relationships doing? If there’s any reset buttons to be pushed, any rebooting to be done, do it today. Tomorrow may be too late. Don’t let anyone you love go to be tonight without knowing you love them.

There’s another relationship of which times like this remind us. This one has to do with our spiritual lives. The second reading had to do with that.

“Don’t be worried and upset,” says Jesus. “Believe in God and in me.” And not only that, Jesus says he’s gone on ahead of us to prepare places for us in his Father’s house and that he will come back to take us to himself so that we will be where he is. And he says we know the way to that place.

Thomas didn’t. Do we? Has life swept us away to the point where we, too, have lost our way?

Jesus reminds us of what it is. Believe in God, he says, believe also in me. I am the way, he says. No one goes to one of the rooms I prepared in the Father’s house except by me.

Do we believe that? Do we need to hit our faith reset button today?

Our celebration of Tom Slobodin’s life provides us with an excellent opportunity to consider these things. Thanks be to God.