Friday, 25 March 2011

A Short Funeral Sermon with Reference to Ecclesiastes 3 and John 14: for Christina Middleton

Jesus gives us words of comfort: don’t be troubled, trust God, trust in me, I am going to prepare a place for you, when everything is ready I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am. How do we get there? Be ready for him when he comes; because he is the only one who can take us to the place he is talking about—one of those many rooms in his, and our, Father’s heavenly home.

How can we be ready? Well now, there’s the challenge, because we’ve got to do that in the midst of all this—death and funerals, grief and loss—not to mention all the other stuff we heard about in the Eccesiastes reading: being uprooted, tearing down, weeping, mourning, scattering, searching, giving up, throwing away, being torn, silence, hate and war.

I just discovered how Christina experienced much of that as a little girl. Her time to be born was 1921. Her mother died when she was a toddler, she lived in a home from the age of two to seven years old, was finally adopted by an aunt and uncle, was plagued by migraines and perhaps depression and mobility problems for many years. Christina’s life, particularly her childhood, doesn’t sound easy.

And yet, I remember her as a tiny woman with a big smile and who could be very determined; the Teeoda folk experienced that in many ways, I remember particularly the cat incident when some thought she was going to be evicted.

Despite the hardships and challenges Christina experienced, she lived the rest of the Ecclesiastes list, too. There was a time for her to be born, that was no accident as far as God is concerned and we’re all glad of it. There then ensued much planting—of a busy life and friendships—healing, building, laughing, dancing (I presume—can’t imagine her as a young woman in the Navy without some dancing involved), embracing, gathering and keeping precious things (Jim and Doreen showed me some of her meticulously kept notebooks and photo albums), mending, speaking, love and peace. There were lots of blessings and pleasures in her life, too: like cats, pets, chocolate (Jim and Doreen showed me the little notes she gave them ordering sometimes six chocolate bars at a time), she sponsored a foster child in Africa for many years.

For Christina all of that is over. She’s in the hands of God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who created and loves her.

We, however, as still experiencing our time for everything; our season for every activity under heaven; and living all of the it out.

How shall we do that? Like our sister, Christina, we make the most of the time we are given. We do our best not to let ourselves be troubled, just as Jesus said. Since one day people will be gathering like this to say goodbye to you and me, too, I urge you to consider what Jesus says very carefully when he says trust in God, trust also in me—believe in me—for I am the only way to one of those rooms in my Father’s heavenly home. I keep the reservations. Is your reservation confirmed by a decision to believe in Him?

The fact is, as the song we’re about hear says, Jesus is calling you and me, just as he called Christina when she was with us. In the midst of all our seasons and activities, birthing and dying, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing: earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling. Come home, he says, Come home.

How shall we, who remain, respond to that amazing invitation? After all, as the poem on the back of your leaflet says, "It's good to get home," don't you think?