Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A Short Funeral Sermon with Reference to 1 Corinthians 15 in the Book of Common Prayer and Music: for Marg Edwards

There are three things I remember in particular about Marg Edwards. She was always immaculately turned out. She was always with Jack. Her smile when she played her beloved piano (Lauri described it as “ear to ear” and “Revlon” in her tribute). And when I think of Jack and Marg, I think music. Lively music (they always seemed to think they needed to warn me about that, me who not so many years ago had a grand time at the Rolling Stones concert in Regina). Music that gave them joy from the good old days.

The service we’re using this afternoon is a bit like that music. It’s from what for many Anglicans, including Jack and Marg, were the good old days. You don’t hear it so often these days. Many folk have lost their ear for it. But if you know it, or take the time to get to know it, it’s very tuneful. Full of joy and hope and the rich melodies, chords and harmonies which sing and ring between earth and heaven that the living God Himself composed—the original Melody of Love (which Val Brower just played so well).

One of the main works God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, composed is the resurrection of the dead that St Paul wrote about in that reading we just heard. That is a huge and defining chord in his symphony of life—a symphony in which Marg, and all of us if we so choose, play a part—with varying degrees of tunefulness—sweet notes and sour ones.

Most orchestras need a conductor. Someone to decide what tunes they are to play, who knows what they play best together and how to make them sound good. Someone to challenge them and lead them into melodies and harmonies of which they don’t think they are capable. I don’t know who the conductor or leader of Jack and Marg’s group was, but I know who is the conductor of the one St Paul is writing about in our reading, the cosmic and heavenly one: Jesus, the Son of God, who came to play in our band on earth for a time. He taught us all the best tunes and how to live in true harmony. He was the keynote in that great mysterious resurrection chord God played.

Behold, wrote St Paul, I show you a mystery. Jesus is a mystery. The Resurrection is a mystery. Life is a mystery. We all live it and enjoy it, or not, but we don’t really understand it. Like the vibrating strings on Marg’s piano, some of us harmonize, some don’t. Some music sets my teeth on edge, for others it’s sweet. It’s all mystery. Yet, out of all the tones and tunes in universe, Jack and Marg came together, a chord was struck which has continued to resonate through the 65 years and one month of their marriage, and here we all are listening to it ring still.

Here’s another musical mystery. One day, says Paul, a trumpet shall sound, the Resurrection chord will be resolved and we “shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and the dead who are in tune with Jesus shall be raised to live forever” to enjoy a heavenly music beyond our natural, earthy experience full of glory and power.

Marg’s piano is to music as our natural state, our bodies, are to living forever with glory and power in the heavenly realm.

Marg’s piano is a machine which she had to learn how to play and tune and maintain so the music could be made.

Just so, Marg’s and our earthly bodies are machines with which we have to learn to live our earthy lives, listening to the melody God wrote and tuning ourselves to be in harmony with God and with one another as we carefully watch our conductor, Jesus. Only then can the rhythm of our lives swing (just as they did in the Edwards’ band The Swinging Seven) in time with the beat of his heart, only then can we really play our part in His great symphony of life, only then can the music we make be a true Melody of Love and only then can it be truly heaven-bound.