Friday, 2 August 2013

Looking For Help: A Short Funeral Homily with Reference to Ecclesiastes 3, John 14 and Big Brothers—for Terry Avery

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. (Ecc 3:1)
From the obituary and what I’ve heard, it sounds as if Terry enjoyed his life and activities under heaven. He sounds like a strong-willed forthright, even intimidating, kind of guy who enjoyed a good laugh and the outdoors. His sisters tell me he was loud, outspoken and a hard worker.

Yet, as we just heard in the Ecclesiastes passage, in the midst of the good seasons, times and activities, there is for all of us—even strong guys like Terry—a time to be broken down and to die. So, for you who remain and especially for Sharon, his partner, Diane, his mother, and for Cheryl and Penny, his sisters, seasons and times like this are hard, especially when they come so early. And you are left with this season, and this time; to lose, to grieve and to weep.

I think it was Penny who told me that Terry was a debater who loved a good argument. He also loved to be right and to win. If life is an argument, it’s hard not to feel as though we’ve lost it at times like this.

What on earth can we do with that when, as we heard in the song during the video a few moments ago, there’s “so much pain and so much darkness in this world we stumble through,” when, according to the writer of Ecclesiastes, our time and season is one of dying, crying, grieving and losing?

We look for help. Where is help to be found at a time like this? In one another. In being thankful that there was a time and season for Terry to be born. In keeping your good memories of Terry and the relationships, the laughter, and the love you enjoyed with him.

We look for help. In the pain and sorrow of times and seasons like this we can often also find ourselves searching for some sort of divine help. That’s what the Amazing Grace is that John Newton was writing about in the song we heard Johnny Cash singing at the beginning of the service. We feel lost and want to be found by someone strong enough to help us through this. We feel blind because we can’t understand why there are “dangers, toils and snares” and things like heart disease that kill people we love at too young an age. We want to see more clearly, so we look for help.

Such help is available. Penny told me that Terry was the typical “very annoying big brother.” I didnt realize how annoying until you shared a few moments ago. Between the eyes, heh? The One I’m talking about was a big brother, too. When he started gathering crowds, his family tried to take him home saying, “He’s out of his mind.” (Mk 3:21) That must have been pretty annoying for his brothers and sisters. He certainly annoyed the religious leaders of his time. Yet, he is Amazing Grace personified. He was also a debater who won all his arguments. He is the only One who can help us with death because he defeated it and came back from it. His name is Jesus, Son of the Most High God, LORD and Saviour, Light of the World. The One who, knowing that there will be seasons and times of pain and darkness like this, said in our second reading to the confused, soon to be grieving disciples he loved:
Don't be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There 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. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there. (John 14:1-4)
We all, like Thomas, need help to know how to get where Jesus is. We may never have heard how to get to one of those rooms in the Father’s house. Some of us may have forgotten or have just grown careless and need to be reminded. Jesus tells us how:
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Clear and to the point. Straight to the point, just the way Terry would talk. Uncompromising. This is the way it is.

Why did Jesus say all that? Because, Jesus loved his disciples and loves you and me now—to the point of death.

“When I get where I’m going, and see my maker’s face,” as we heard in the song behind the video,” I’ll stand forever in the light, of his amazing Grace.” That’s where Jesus wants you and me to be "on the far side of the sky."

This, he said, is how. Trust in God. Trust in me. I am The Way, follow my example. I am The Truth. Learn about that truth in the Scriptures. I am The Life. My heart now beats in my body on earth, the Church. Notice the where the guy was praying in the video. If you need the help of a big brother who really loves you, that is where I am to be found.