Monday, 13 February 2017

More Home Truths: a Short Funeral Homily with Reference to Psalm 73.23-26 and John 14.1-4 & 12—for Theresa Exner

Jesus promises us all a home in what we just heard Evan, Theresa's (Oma's) grandson-in-law, read to us from John's gospel (John 14.1-4,12)—trust in my Father and me, he said, there is more than enough room—many rooms—in my Father's home.

Having a home was especially important to Theresa having once been a wartime refugee herself and, as a consequence, having to live somewhere other than what she considered her real home for the rest of her life.

Having a home is probably one of the deepest human desires. Homelessness is one of societies most disturbing and troublesome issues both locally and globally. Having no place to call home is something most of us fear. Theresa wasn't homeless. She was more a little bit homesick, I suspect.
None of us are homeless, either (I hope). Most of us not homesick, either—and yet. At times like this, when we're forced to acknowledge the reality of death, despite our best efforts to avoid and delay it. We have to deal with funeral "homes" and resting places and we go "home" to be with family. And, underneath, there's this spiritual undercurrent, too, a sense of being set adrift, a yearning, wondering, restlessness which a death in the family stirs up. This life is temporary. Is this all there is? Or is there more? Is the home-coming Jesus describes and for which he says he went on ahead to prepare places for Theresa and for all us, real? Will he really come and get us so we will always be with him where he is? Home in his Father's house.

"And you know the way to where I am going," Jesus said. The way? Yes, there is a way. Jesus said he is The Way a few verses after the passage Evan read. We heard something of what The Way is at the beginning of that reading from John. "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust (or believe) in, God and trust (or believe) also in me." Believe what? That Jesus Christ is Lord and that he rose from the dead. If that's true, then that home exists, the risen Jesus is there preparing places (or maybe he's already prepared them) for Theresa and all of us who choose to trust, to believe, that Jesus is who the Bible says he is and what he says is true.

To trust and believe doesn't mean we necessarily understand it. It doesn't mean we don't have doubts. We're mere human beings whose "health may fail" as Kathy read in Psalm 73, and whose spirits grow weak depending on how much sleep we've had or how we're feeling on any particular day. Like in any relationship, doubts, or irritations and dissatisfactions, even hurts happen. But then can be overcome by choosing to remember the good things, the promises, the commitments, the value, the spirit of it all and remembering that it is worthwhile—that if there is to be any place of rest, any home, any peace in life's marvelous mixture of well-being and woe. What Jesus is talking about must be it.

Theresa's long being a part of the Resurrection celebrating community of St Peter Lutheran Church shows that, even when her heart was troubled, as it must have been even if only because of her homesickness sometimes, she trusted in Jesus and his Father which means she knew the way to where Jesus was going and has gone to be with him where he is. Theresa is finally home for good. We don't have to worry about her any more.

We, however, are still living in temporary housing. May I encourage you all to consider how to secure that place Jesus went on ahead prepare by, in words of the Psalm Kathy read, acknowledging that we do still belong to The One who created and loves us, who holds us by the hand, guides me with his counsel (if we'll only listen), is leading us to a glorious destiny in a heavenly home (if we do but follow), and though our health may fail and our spirits grow weak, the God and Father of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, will remain the strength of our hearts and promises to remain the ours—our very own, forever and ever. Amen.

Gene+