Saturday, 25 October 2014

For Genevieve Lush: Short Homily for Her Memorial Service in St Barnabas, Medicine Hat—with Reference to Psalm 139, Ecclesiastes 3 and Isaiah 25.

Jesus brought us all together this morning. Jesus brought us together because Genevieve believed in him, followed him and decreed that we should be having this service in his church which meant so much to her—I can just hear her saying, “My dear, this is the way it’s going to be”—and because we all loved Genevieve here we all are.

It’s because of Jesus the words were written for the hymn Genevieve chose for us to sing earlier: “Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear.” Genevieve knew our LORD and Saviour Jesus is like the sun; providing the divine light she needed, and you and I still need, to find our way safely through the twists and turns, seasons, times and matters (Ecc 3.1) of this life.

Life presents us with some dark times, it’s true. The writer of Ecclesiastes lists some of them in what Marjorie read. Times when things break down, when we weep, lose, tear, hate, make war, kill, die and mourn (Ecc 3.2-8). Genevieve experienced many such dark times in her life, yet she never let them hold her down. She knew that “Even the darkness is no darkness with thee,” just as it says in the passage she chose for us to pray from Psalm 139 (v11) today, “but the night is as clear as the day: the darkness and light to thee are both alike.” So, going back to the hymn, it is perfectly reasonable for us to sing, “It is not night if thou be near,” because Jesus, Sun of our souls and light of the world illuminates our way.

Just words, you might be tempted to think, especially if this is a season and time when matters on that dark list have gotten the better of you and it is hard to find comfort in them. But it was love for and the love of Jesus is what caused every word of the Scriptures and the prayer book we’re using today to be written.

Genevieve loved them—her Bible and her prayer book—but words, too. Didn’t she love to talk. Of her seasons, times and matters past. Of Newfoundland. Of her children and grandchildren, her parents and Mr and Mrs Knee. Of cod and salt beef. It was like a sort of Newfoundland stream of consciousness well salted with wonderful Newfie-isms. Many of her stories and memories included those good sun-lit things in life also listed in Ecclesiastes; birth, planting, healing, building up, laughter, dancing, good gatherings, embracing, peace and love (Ecc 3.2-8). So, it is fitting to read verses three and four of Psalm 139 with Genevieve in mind: “For lo, there was not a word in her tongue, but thou, O LORD, knewest it altogether.” And there were a lot of them, but we know and are grateful for the way, “Thou hast beset her behind and before, and laid thine hand upon her.” I enjoyed listening to her. I was glad to know her and that I got to share the journey with her for a season and a time. She was a true witness to the resurrection power of Jesus.

“How sweet to rest for ever on my Saviour’s breast,” Genevieve also had us sing. Sweet indeed. The season which Genevieve is now enjoying. A feast, in fact, just as Isaiah described in what Mollie read—“of rich food…a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.” (Isa 25.6) Death swallowed up, it went on, and tears wiped away, all good and rich and tasty and fine and all because of Jesus.

So, I know you will understand and agree as I use the words of Psalm 139 again: “I will give thanks unto thee,” O LORD, for the life and witness of Genevieve Lush, for she and all of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.” (v13)

The chosen and beloved heart of all God’s fearful and wonderful making was Jesus. “All things were made through him,” wrote John in his gospel, “and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men and women. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:3–5 (ESV)) Genevieve was made through Jesus, so were we all; in him was her life, and ours; he was the light of her life, as he is ours if we so choose; and no darkness could have, or can ever, overcome the clear, warm, constant, life-giving light that Genevieve enjoys and that comes from Jesus.