Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mary Regula, 11/29/26-4/5/18

For Mary Regula
Isaiah 25:6-9
Revelation 21:2-7
John 6:37-40

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

We gather together on this day to commend Mary into the care of God’s loving arms.  There will come another day when we will gather to celebrate Mary’s remarkable life and incredible accomplishments.  Today, we have met in this holy place to be reminded of her deep and abiding faith in God, and—more importantly—to be reminded of God’s unfailing love for Mary.  There are three things I want to share with you this morning.

First, a greeting.  I did not know Mary for very long, in the scheme of things.  But every time I visited her, starting two years ago, right up until the time she stopped speaking, she would always take my hand, look me in the eye, and ask, “From whence have you come?”  The best name I have for this is, “Regal Curiosity.”  From whence have you come?  I always wanted to say, “from hither and yon, M’lady.”  But I always answered truthfully:  From St. Timothy’s Church.  And every time I gave that answer, Mary’s eyes would light up.  She knew the place well, and even as her memory slipped away, she still recognized the name, and she would smile at the memory.

Second, a poem.  The very first time I visited Mary and Ralph at the farm in 2016, I sat down with them to chat and to bring them the Sacrament.  Several times during that first conversation, Mary quoted from a Robert Browning poem.  She wanted to be sure I understood how important it was to her.  And she would stop the conversation, and look me in the eye and quote two lines:  “Grow old along with me.  The best is yet to be.”  She was so insistent about this, that I looked up the poem as soon as I had time.

It’s a l-o-n-g poem, but Mary knew the best part, which is the first stanza:  “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”  Mary and Ralph lived together fearlessly, embracing a full life, trusting God, seeing all.  A whole life together as God hoped, and they lived all of it.

Third, the Sacrament.  From my very first visit, after Mary took the bread—the body of Christ—she would weep.  Uncontrollable tears streaming down her cheeks.  Every time.  These were sacred, holy moments, and no one dared speak until Mary would open her eyes again.  Taking Communion was a transcendent experience for Mary, and I was honored and humbled to be the one who was blessed to bring it to her, over those few short months.  If I ever doubted whether Jesus was truly present in the Sacrament, a short drive down to Navarre would set me straight.

The greeting, the poem, and the Sacrament.  These are the three things I will always remember about Mary.  And you could give these things different names: people, abundant life, and Jesus.  These are the three things that Mary was passionate about, and—it’s no coincidence—these are the same things that God is most passionate about: people, abundant life, and Jesus.  Mary lived a life attuned to God’s will.  She cared about people, she wanted people to live the fullest life possible, and she knew that, somehow, Jesus came to her in the sacrament.

Mary’s life was an inspiration yes.  But her faith in God is what made it so.  Jesus said:  “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.”  Mary surely has come to Jesus.  And if Jesus asks her, “From whence have you come?”  She can say with confidence, “From a life well-lived, and people well-loved:  a life well-pleasing to God.”


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Braden Ehmer, 8/17/93-3/29/18

For Braden Ehmer
Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 46
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 23
John 11:21-27

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

I never met Braden.  But I can tell by watching you enter this room today that he was deeply loved, and will be fiercely missed.  We probably all feel the same way today.  We don’t want to be here to bury one so young.  This is not the way things are supposed to go.  And yet, we have to be here.  For one another, and to try to find a way to honor Braden’s life.  At times like this, we have no words.  And so we turn to God’s Word, and we focus on the promises God makes to all of us.

As we heard from Isaiah, God will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. 

And from the book of Revelation, They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 

And, most importantly, from Jesus himself to Martha:  "Your brother will rise again."

We all struggle in life, through good and bad, because things do not always go as we intend.  Things don’t go as God intends either, because this world is not the way God wants it to be, intends for it to be.  Sometimes parents and grandparents outlive their children and grandchildren.  Sometimes brothers and sisters and cousins have to gather on a day like this and say goodbye to someone they love so dearly, long before they should have to.  And in the midst of that, Jesus says to us, your brother will rise again.  Your son will rise again.  Your friend will rise again.

We all struggle to believe in God sometimes.  But when we experience love, we experience God.  Because God is love.  The love you have for Braden and that Braden has for you is a gift from God.  Love does not die.  You love Braden forever, and he loves you forever.  Because of this, you will see him again one day.  I don’t know how or when—but I know that it is true.

This is our faith:  to believe that you will see Braden again.  Until that time, hold onto that hope.  The hope of Easter.  Remember Braden.  Live in the ways he has inspired you in your life.  None of us is perfect, but love is perfect.  Hold on to that love, hold onto each other, and hold onto the promise that your brother will rise again.