Saturday, 7 April 2012

A Short Funeral Sermon—with Reference to Ecc 3, John 14 and Holy Saturday: for Edna Jaeger

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. (Ecc 3)
We’re here because Edna Jaeger’s time to die has come. Because of that, we have this time to lose—someone we love. So, we cry. We grieve. We embrace as we comfort one another.

It’s not all grief and sadness, though. Edna died in a good old age and full of years so this is also a time to keep and laugh over good memories. Cooking pot water warrior. Generous seller of candies—always a little extra something extra. I love the way her face lit up when I visited. Spoiler of grandchildren. Christmas card shark. Colourful. An adventurous woman who coloured outside the lines. Edna.

Occasions like this can also provide a time for peace and love, a time to search out folks from which we may have drifted away, to mend and rebuild strained relationships.

So here we are, as the prayer book says “In the midst of life we are in death,” caught between the two as it were, joy and sorrow; as fourteenth century mystic, Julianna of Norwich, put it, in the “marvelous mixture of wellbeing and woe” that is life.

This is a good day in which to do all that. Yesterday was Good Friday, the day we remember a time for a man called Jesus to die on a cross. A dark, unjust, bloody day.

Today it’s Holy Saturday. A day in which all the world is in waiting, as it were, poised between death and resurrection life—which will it be? Will love lead us thru darkness as cheryl sang. Was Jesus just a deluded, quixotic man? Does it all stop on a Black, rather than Good, Friday—in darkness, hopelessness and loss.

This is what Jesus said to his disciples, on a day like this, knowing what was coming and knowing that they were soon going to be going through something like we are, wondering at the mystery of death, grieving over the death of someone they loved and wondering what it all means, whether this is all there is. Wishing they’d said this or done that before it was too late.
"Don't be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. 2There 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. 3When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”  (John 14)
Jesus is talking about something that happens because of what we’ll celebrate tomorrow. Easter. The Resurrection. Jesus’ triumph over death. Death is not all there is. There is more—a loving, heavenly Father’s home, full of many rooms, so that Edna and all of us can be with Jesus where he now is if we want to. Jesus is like Edna—his face lights up when he spends time with people he loves. In a place where there are no more tears or pain. Jesus continued:
4And you know where I am going and how to get there." 5"No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We haven't any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" 
All of Edna’s questions about life and death have now been answered. We, however, are still going through Holy Saturday. We’ve still got the questions and the wonderings like Thomas. Jesus is pretty clear on the answer to those:
6Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 
Jesus died and rose again. Through him, and only through him, we can do the same. That’s the Easter promise.

So. To honour Edna who’s life and death have brought us here on this Holy Saturday: two things to think about and to act on in her memory.

First, since “There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.” And since we don’t know when our time will come. Make sure the people you love know it before you go to bed tonight. Tomorrow may be too late.

Second, decide whether Jesus is telling the truth about his Father’s heavenly home and whether you want to have one of those rooms. If you do, get connected with Jesus. He’s the only one who handles the reservations. I am The Way, he says, 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. That is where I am to be found.