Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Burial of George M. Cazan

The Burial of George M. Cazan
September 14, 2019
Wisdom 3:1-5, 9
Psalm 121
Revelation 21:2-7
John 10:11-16

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

One of the challenges of being a priest in parish ministry is trying to figure out what people really think.  As you can probably guess, this was never a problem with George Cazan.  I never had any doubts as to what George Cazan thought about things, or where he stood.

Three years ago, St. Timothy’s held a “Meet the Rector” event the month before I officially started here.  Among the people who waited in line to greet me was George Cazan.  As he held my hand, he looked in my eyes and said, “These people need a shepherd.  And I believe you are that shepherd.”  Then he leaned in close and whispered loudly, “DON’T SCREW IT UP!”  And I guess I did okay, by George at least, because if he did think I screwed it up, he definitely would’ve told me.

And, speaking of shepherds, in the gospel reading we just heard, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  And he also tells us that the hired hand runs away because he does not care for the sheep.  And what happens to the sheep?  The wolf snatches them and scatters them.  Of course, these images are metaphors, but we easily understand what Jesus means.

I am quite certain there have been times in your life where you felt like a wolf was snatching you up.  Where things in life made you feel scattered and separated from your flock or family.  There are wolves in this world, and you and I face them all the time.  And one of the scariest of those wolves is the one we call “death.”  Death is the wolf that eventually comes for us all.  And every time we lose someone we love to that wolf, we gather the flock together, as we are gathered together right now.

And as a flock, we look to Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to help us.  We know we need a shepherd—someone to protect us from all the dangers of living in this world.  And sometimes we get so scared and worried, so fearful of the uncertain future, that we find ourselves leaning in and whispering loudly to Jesus, DON’T SCREW IT UP.

But that wolf of death does not have the last word.  Because as we heard from Revelation this morning, “God will wipe away every tear, and death will be no more.”  Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  And we live our lives between those two points, beginning and end, all the while, living within the loving embrace of God.  And there’s more.  Because even in death, we continue where we have been all along: safely enfolded in the arms of the Good Shepherd.

I have been thinking these past days that maybe the reason George Cazan was so concerned about our parish having a shepherd is because he spent so much of his own life shepherding people.  Watching out for those who might be at risk of being attacked in schools and classrooms.  Shepherding singers to lift worthy praises to God in this space, and others.

George loved music and beauty so much that he dedicated his life to pulling it out of others.  Finding the places where people could be safe and could shine their light.  Nothing was too big, too high, or too dramatic for George.  And God deserves exactly that!  The widest, most glorious expressions of beauty and art, given back in thanksgiving to the Good Shepherd, who creates us, redeems us, and will pull each one of us out of the jaws of death.  That is truly something to sing about.  And I fully believe and trust that George Cazan now sings with choirs of angels around the throne of the Good Shepherd, with a clear, strong voice, no doubt all the while trying his best to steal the show.
Let us pray . . .

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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