Saturday, 27 June 2009

A Funeral Sermon: on Relationships with reference to Ecclesiastes 3, John 14 and Hank Williams "I Saw the Light" - for Eileen Swain

Why are we all here this afternoon? Because we all had either a relationship with Eileen or a relationship with a member of her family.

What's a relationship? A relationship is a state of connectedness between people (especially an emotional connection). We're all here because of an emotional connection with Eileen or with a member of her family.

Relationships are precious; the most important things in our lives. We are born to be in relationships. If a new born baby does not immediately experience a loving relationship from someone, preferably his parents, as soon as she is born, that baby will not thrive.

Much of what we've just heard read from the Bible is the language of relationship. In the passage from Ecclesiastes we heard of times to rebuild, to cry, to laugh, to grieve, to dance, to embrace, to mend, to be quiet, to speak up, to love, to hate, for war and for peace; they all happen in relationships. We all do those things because of the relationships in our lives, good or bad, joyful or sad, healthy or broken.

What Jessie shared about his grandmother, was lovingly written out of the relationship he enjoyed with Eileen.

This family exists because of the relationship between Eileen and her husband, Jim. It continues because of the relationships between their children and their families.

Eileen worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time because took the relationship with her children very seriously. Her door was always open to them, because the relationships were important to her. She was crazy they tell me and once dressed like Tina Turner to make them laugh because she loved them. She was always first in the water at the lake (thrown there by her 6 sons) presumably because they loved her—because of the relationship they all enjoyed.

Why do you think that Jesus said, “Don't be troubled,” in the passage from John? Because he had a loving relationship with the people he was talking to. He had an emotional connection with them, just as we have with Eileen. He didn't want them to worry. He wanted to reassure them and encourage them by telling them that there are many rooms in His Father's heavenly home, that He, Jesus, was going on ahead of them to prepare places for them in that heavenly home, and when everything is ready, He would come and get them so they will always be with Him where He is. Jesus wanted the relationships with his disciples to continue because he loved them.

The Bible was written so that we can know that we also are loved by Jesus. That Jesus wants to be in relationship with each one of us, to have a rich emotional connection with us so that we, too, will not have to troubled and can know that there can be one of those rooms for us, too.

How do we agree to be in such a relationship with Him? He told us how. “Trust (or believe) in God” and “trust in me,” he said. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” No one can have one of those rooms without being in relationship with God through Jesus.

How do you develop a relationship? Spend time with one another; give and receive affection. A relationship with God is developed by spending time with Jesus. Where is He to be found? In His Church, in the Bible and in His followers.

Because of the relationship we enjoyed with Eileen we now have this opportunity to consider some important questions. How are our relationships doing? Do the people we love know it? Make sure they do. Tomorrow may be too late.

Not only were we born for relationships in this life, we were also born to enjoy them in the next, if we want to.

Do you have one with Jesus? Do you have a reservation for one of those rooms which can only come out a relationship with Him?

To decide to answer and to act on those questions would be a good way to acknowledge the relationship you enjoyed with Eileen and to honour her.

Here’s something which might help you to think this over and make a decision. Was Jesus telling the truth? Hank Williams thought so. We’re now going to listen to one of Eileen’s favourite songs: Hank Williams, I Saw the Light, in which he sings about how his relationship with Jesus began and what it was like. He sings about how an aimless, dark life full of worries and fears was joyfully transformed when he saw the light—the light of Jesus.