Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Friday, June 24, 2022

For David Sparkes

For David Sparkes, 6-24-22
Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17
John 6:37-40

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

I first met David about 8 months ago.  We were looking for an Organist, and he came to our October Blessing of the Animals; but he brought along his resume’ instead of an animal.  We chatted for a bit, and he came back a few days later for an audition, and we hired him on the spot.  

About a month later, we were getting ready to do our first-ever All Souls service—where we honor those we have lost, by reading their names during the prayers.  A couple days beforehand, David asked if he could come in and speak to me about something.  We sat at a table in the parish hall, and he struggled and stammered about someone he wanted to include in that list of names.  Told me all sorts of things about Sid, and the Lutheran assemblies they’d attended together, and went on and on about how important Sid was to him, and how long they’d been together, and then sheepishly pushed a copy of something like an obituary across the table, looking at me with a wary gaze that suggested, “I wonder if it’s okay to trust you with this information?”

And, though I didn’t say it out loud, my first thought was, “David, the fact that you are gay is the least surprising thing about you!”  David was like an onion. You just keep peeling layers, and there’s always another surprise behind that one. Born to English immigrants during WW2.  Student of Virgil Fox.  Avid engineering enthusiast.  Child prodigy.  Obsessed with trains.  And . . . Perfect attendance School Bus driver?  Roller skating champion?  There seemed to be an unlimited supply of surprises within David.   This very white British man could play the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” better than any organist I’ve met.  David couldn’t seem to understand how to open an email, but he texted on his phone with abandon.  Just an endless onion of surprises.

During David’s final stay in the hospital, our Choirmaster Andrew and I went up to visit him one morning.  I offered some prayers, and anointed David with oil.  Andrew sang a lovely hymn.  And we drove the hour back to Massillon in silence.  If you know Andrew, you know that an hour of silence is an eternity of time!  But Andrew was silent because he was writing an email to the choir on that drive.  And one of things he said in that email bears repeating.

As he wrote to our choir members, “I was not prepared to see [David] so diminished, particularly how a man who loved to talk so much has been reduced to inarticulate groans. But I'm reminded of the Scripture from Romans that ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness.... and intercedes for us in groanings too deep for words’." 

A man who loved to talk could no longer speak.  And his voice is now silenced forever.  And, so, we speak for David. We tell his stories. Since David cannot speak for himself, we will speak for him. Telling of his life, and keeping his memory alive, in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. The legacy of this onion of surprises will go on.  But there is more!

As we heard in the gospel reading just a few minutes ago, Jesus says “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.”  Jesus promises that he will lose nothing the Father has given him, but will raise it up on the last day.

And this means, David has not gone anywhere he has not already been all along. If Jesus is with us, then David is with us.  Jesus meets us at his altar in the bread and the wine. Jesus has not let go of David, and Jesus will not let go of you.

And I am convinced that as we gather around this altar, with the Saints of every time and every place, David is with us.  And David will once again be singing with us.  David gave his voice to Jesus, and David has his voice back, because Jesus does not lose what is his.  David and Sid will both be singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” right along with all of us. And it will be a beautiful sound indeed, because Jesus loses nothing that the Father has given to him.  Not David, not Sid, not you, and not me.


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