Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Short Funeral Sermon with Reference to Ecclesiastes 3.1-8 and John 14.1-3—for Norman Hamel

Jesus is the reason we’re doing this here this morning. We’re here because this is his church and because his church, Norm and Pearl, and many of us, are witnesses to his resurrection from the dead (Acts 1.22).  We’re here because Norm and Pearl believed that, as I do and as many of you do, too. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is present with us now, just as he was when Norm died, is where Norm is now and has been with Pearl, then, before and ever since.

To believe it doesn’t necessarily mean, or require, that we understand how God did it. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have doubts, or behave badly, or hurt one another. After all, as we heard in the passage Steve read in Ecclesiastes, life is real. Along with all the good stuff: the being born, the planting, harvesting, healing, building up, laughing, dancing (Norm and Pearl loved to dance, by the way), embracing, mending, peace, and love (Norm and Pearl enjoyed plenty of that); comes the hard stuff—the killing, crying, grieving, turning away, tearing, war, hate and the dying. Norm and Pearl experienced some of that, too, and so have we all. And so here we all are.

And yet. And yet. There’s this Jesus. Look at what he said in John’s Gospel—page 589 in our service book (The Book of Alternative Services)
Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14.1-30). 
Jesus said that just before he was killed because he knew his disciples, who he loved dearly, would be shattered and grieving when he died. He loved them and wanted them to have hope. He knew the Resurrection was coming. He wanted them to know about those rooms reserved for them in his Father’s house. Jesus wanted Norm and Pearl, and wants you and me, to know it and take comfort from it, too.

When Jude and I met with Pearl to plan this service, Pearl showed us a card Norm had given her. Here’s what it says:
All I want to do is love you forever.
All I want to do is love you for the rest of my life…
to wake up every morning with you by my side, knowing that no matter what happens, I’ll be able to come to your loving arms.
All I want is to share everything with you…to talk to you about our ideas, our dreams, the little everyday things that make us laugh, and the not-so-little things that we can’t help worrying about. All I want is to give you my love…as a place you can always come to for acceptance or the simple comfort that silence brings, when things left unspoken can still be understood.
All I want is to grow old with you…to watch our life unfold, our dreams, one by one, come true.
All I want is to love you forever. 
I read that and thought that’s lovely. What a blessing for Pearl to receive and Norm to give, what a blessing to love and be loved in that way. And then, I thought, Jesus has been saying something very similar to us through the ages in the Bible and in Church Sunday after Sunday:
All I want to do is love you forever.
All I want to do is love you…no matter what happens, so you’ll know I have a place for you if you’d like it.
All I want is to share everything with you…to come to you and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
All I want is to be with you to talk to you about your ideas, your dreams, the little everyday things that make you laugh, and the not-so-little things that you can’t help worrying about.
All I want is to give you my love…as a place you can always come to for acceptance or the simple comfort that silence brings, when things left unspoken can still be understood.
All I want is to share your life as it unfolds, and as your dreams, one by one, come true.
All I want is to love you forever. 
How could we not have heard that? Have the noise and disappointments and mess that life brings—the pain on days like this—drowned his voice out? As we enjoy our good memories of Norm this morning—as we honour him and The One who created him—let’s listen carefully. Every word we've heard and will hear in our service this morning is inspired by the Risen Jesus.