Monday, 30 August 2010

A Funeral Sermon with Reference to Ecclesiastes 3, John 14, "When a Child is Born," and "You Raise Me Up": for Lynn Costea

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.

We’re all of us glad that there was a time for Lynn to be born. As the song said, “a brand new morn” came to pass when she came into the world. God did a good job when he created her.

Her life and ours then were woven together (mine just for this moment, yours more extensively) as we all live our lives out. The Ecclesiastes writer describes the way it is pretty well. There are times when we plant ourselves in families and friendships, in careers, when we harvest the fruit of that planting, times to cry and grieve (this is one of them), to laugh (even loud enough to be heard across an arena, as Ed said)and dance, embrace one another, to make fools of ourselves and be reminded of it (as Ed said), get ticked off with one another and turn away, we search (not always for the right or helpful things), sometimes we are losers. There are times for peace and quiet and times to speak up (they tell me Lynn was good at that). There are times to love, which bought Lynn and Les together and which brought Justin and Jordan into the world. And times to hate and make war—not necessarily on one another—but on things like cancer and whatever damages and erodes loving relationships. Good times—rich, wonderful, joyful times—the good life—all mixed in with bad times like this. That’s life. The new morn when Lynn was born came (it sounds to me as if she then lived her life with gusto) and we’re left to deal with the fact that her time to die has come also. It seems so unfair for her to have suffered so, and to have died so young. We hurt and our hearts are troubled. We’re like the one in the song Josh Grobin sang: “When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary; When troubles come and my heart burdened be.”

Jesus knows all about that and I need to tell you about it because I work for him. “Don’t be troubled,” he says in our reading from John’s gospel. “You trust God, now trust in me. 2There 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. 3When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4And you know where I am going and how to get there."

Jesus said that to his disciples. He knew how they would feel when he was killed (he suffered and died young, too). He said these words to raise them up so they would be able to, again, as Josh Grobin sang, “stand on mountains,” “walk on stormy seas” and get a glimpse of the eternity God was offering them and us. But many of us, especially when we’re in situations like this, would, like Thomas, say, "No, we don't know where you’re going, Lord, so how can we know the way?" Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Somehow the way Jesus lived and the way he loved them, the truth in what Jesus was saying and the reality and richness of the eternal life he offered got through to them and, as Andrea Bocelli sang in When a Child is Born, “the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn.” And, as Josh Grobin sang, they all were raised up to be more than they could be.

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. This is a time consider that life can be shorter than we expect, and to think carefully about whether and how we might respond to what Jesus offers? I hope you will believe in Jesus and what he says and let your walls of doubt tumble so that you, too, can become more than you think you can be.

This is a time to enjoy our good memories of Lynn, to be thankful that we got to be a part of her life. Remembering how precious loving relationships are, and in memory of Lynn, this is also a time to make sure that our relationships are in good shape, to repair the broken ones, to make sure the people we love know it today, because life can be shorter than we expect and tomorrow may be too late.