Saturday, 22 September 2012

Relationships: a Funeral Homily with Reference to Ecc 3 and John 14—for George Brice

A lovely day to be laid to rest. Here is what I said:

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. George Brice’s season lasted ninety two years. A lot can happen in ninety two years. The time came for many people to be born into George’s family—children, grandchildren and great grandchildren—the time came for some to die; in the midst of all that there was tearing down, rebuilding, crying, laughing, grieving, dancing, scattering, gathering, embracing, turning away, searching, losing, keeping, throwing away, tearing, mending, silence, speaking up, loving, hating, war and peace.

Most of that is the language of relationship; good ones and bad, joyful or sad, healthy or broken. We’re all here this morning because we all had either a relationship with George or a relationship with a member of his family.

A relationship is a state of connectedness between people (especially an emotional connection). We're all here because of an emotional connection with George or with a member of his family.

We are born to be in relationships. Relationships are precious; the most important things in our lives. Good, healthy relationships are the source of the greatest joys we will ever experience.

Relationships can also be difficult and complicated. They’re messy. They can be painful; excruciatingly so when close ones break down. Relationships take time, forbearance and forgiveness. Lots and lots of forgiveness.

Because of gentleman George Brice’s life and death, the resulting relationships, and this reminder of our our own mortality you and I now have this opportunity to consider some important things. How are our relationships doing? Are there any that need to be restored? Are there people we need to forgive? Do the people we love know it? Make sure they do. Tomorrow may be too late. Remember especially the power of touch and all the good things Chase told us about in her tribute to her great grandfather.

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 George and/or members of his family. He knew that life can be hard and painful. He knew that we all have to face death; of relationships, of people we love, of people from whom we are estranged, our own. He didn't want them to worry and feel hopeless about that. He wanted to give them hope by giving them a new and better way to engage with the complexities of life and death. This new way begins with a relationship. Jesus wanted the relationships with his disciples to continue because he loved them. So it is with us.

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. Not only that, Jesus is also saying we are not only born for relationships in this life, but also to enjoy them in the next, so it is important for us to consider what Jesus says about what comes after death.

In our reading from John Jesus told his disciples 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—just as Ken described those family dinners only more so.

So it is for us.

Jesus went on to say, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

The rooms come out of a relationship. Jesus is the way. Follow his example. Jesus is the truth. Learn about that truth in the Scriptures. Jesus is the life. His heart on earth now beats in his body the Church. Become a part of the life of the church, his life, so your heart will come to beat in time with his. The Church is where his truth is taught and where we learn to live our lives in The Way he taught.

Making an honest effort to explore these matters and to act on them would not only a be a good way equip yourselves to get through life’s troubles in one piece, but will also enable you to make the most of the relationships in your lives and to honour George Brice.