Saturday, 29 June 2013

Jesus, Scotch Tape and 78 Cents an Hour: a Short Funeral Homily with Reference to 1 Corinthians 15 and 1925—for Dorothy Langdon

The hymns tell one part of the story for today. They’re all about Jesus. First, we sang, “how sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear.” Jesus: Dear Name, Shield, Hiding Place, Shepherd, Husband, Friend, Prophet, Priest and King, Lord, Life, the Way, our End. His name certainly sounded sweet to Dorothy while she was with us and I love that it still does in ways we can only imagine.  
Not only that, as we will shortly hear Sherry Nott sing, softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Dorothy and her sisters answered that call and, as result, they heard and hear, and knew and know, his voice and their lives, all three, are now the richer for it.  
And then Dorothy and her sisters chose for us to sing “I heard the voice of Jesus say, come unto me and rest.” Dorothy heard his voice. She listened to him in the Bible and in Sunday worship. She knows that in him is her rest, her living water, the light of her life. 
Finally, they chose, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” There’s no home safer. No name sweeter, no voice more tender when life gets real, no rest or water more refreshing, no light clearer or more lovely. 
In those four hymns we have a a lyrical portrait of Dorothy Langdon and her sisters, Marjorie and Kathleen; lovers of Jesus and of his church (and this prayer book). 
That’s one part of the story for today. 
Here’s another. It’s all about Jesus, too. Look at the bottom of page 595 in your prayer book: 
NOW is Christ risen from the dead (1 Cor 15:20)
That is the defining and best part. The fact of the resurrection of our LORD Jesus Christ from the dead. That Christ Jesus is risen from the dead has changed everything. Death is destroyed (v26), corruption raised to incorruption (v42), dishonour raised in glory, weakness raised in power (v43), natural bodies raised to spiritual ones (v44), earthy to heavenly (v48-49), mortality to immortality (v53), death swallowed up in victory (v54). 
Now, look at the top page 596, because of Christ is risen from the dead: 
…even so in Christ shall all be made to live. (1 Cor 15:22)
Even so. Made to live. In Christ Jesus and in the power of his resurrection. 
I believe Dorothy has now been made to live on, enjoying , as Paul writes in Romans, God’s free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)—heavenly glory, power, immortality. 
What about us? How can we also be made to live like that? 
In 1925, the year Dorothy was born, the average wage was 78 cents an hour. You had to work to earn it. The life Jesus offers is not about wages earned, it's free and worth infinitely more than 78 cents or any thing else we can ask or imagine—beyond price, in fact. If we want to be made to live the way Jesus now does, we have to follow Dorothy's example and make sure our lives become part of the story I've described. The story of Jesus. If I want to made to live forever in "perfect consummation and bliss," as we will shortly pray, I need to learn to recognize and enjoy the sweetness of the sound of his name, and the soft, tender way in which he calls me, I need to learn to hear his voice among all the others the call for my attention. So do you. In a word, you and I must believe. 
Something else happened in 1925 for us to think about this afternoon. It was the year a man called Richard G. Drew, who worked for 3M, invented Scotch Tape. His original invention was designed for use in the Auto industry to bring a new level of precision to automobile paint jobs. But in a day when all other adhesive tapes used water or heat to become sticky, the Adhesive Tape designed to be self sticking took off with consumers and became an instant success. What's that got to do with Dorothy?
There's an example to be followed here, too. Once she decided to believe in, worship and follow Jesus in his church, she stuck to it—like scotch tape. 
The story of Jesus continues to be lived out in his church.  It's where ordinary people like Dorothy, Marjorie, Kathleen, you and I learn how to be made to live. If you haven't already, I do hope you'll consider becoming a part of it. The wages are beyond price and eternal and there is a  place to stick just for you.