Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Funeral of Dr. Edward Hill

Dr. Edward Hill, 12/19/21
Isaiah 25:6-9
Revelation 21:2-7
John 14:1-6

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

They say it isn’t what you know but rather who you know that counts.  And that’s true, though maybe not in the way you’re thinking.  We’ll come back to that in a minute.

You are probably well aware of Edward Hill’s remarkable life out in the world.  I mean, that’s why you’re here.  Because you knew Dr. Ed Hill.  Out in the world.  But a funeral is really about Ed’s life in the church, his relationship with God, and—more importantly—God’s relationship with him.

I find it interesting that Dr. Hill was born during a pandemic, and died during a pandemic, and in between he dedicated his entire life to healing the sick and attending births.  I find it quite moving that a man who served in World War II chose so many songs about peace for his funeral service.  People who have not seen the horrors of war might want “Onward Christian Soldiers” at this service.  Ed wanted “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

Edward Hill accomplished a lot during his lifetime, and the world is a better place because he was in it.  Some people accomplish a lot, and some people don’t.  And in the eyes of God they are all the same.  George H. W. Bush was an Episcopalian, and at his funeral the priest read the same commendation that I will read for Ed today, which is the same commendation I read at the funeral of people I’ve never even met.  In the eyes of God and the Church, we are all the same.  And that is very good news . . . to most of us.

Yes, there are lots of people who make the world better, like Dr. Hill.  But there are not a lot of people as dedicated to God and the Church as he was.  Some people walk through those doors on Sunday morning and parishioners ask me, “Who is that person?”  No one ever asked that about Dr. Hill.  Everybody knew who Ed Hill was.  And you know why?  Because he was here, every single Sunday, no matter what.

He insisted that he was going to walk in that door rather than the parking lot door as long as he could still climb the steps.  He insisted he was going to come up to the Altar for communion as long as he could still walk.  That’s his pew right over there, which I’m thinking we’ll need to put a plaque on some day.  

Even during COVID, once we could open the doors, Ed kept coming.  Kept showing up.  Kept wanting it all to work.  Kept telling me we needed to have a sock hop for the kids, and reminiscing about adult forums where everybody would smoke cigarettes and drink coffee in the parish hall.

But here’s the thing I want to make sure you know and remember about Dr. Edward Hill.  At the spry young age of . . . 99, he invited his YMCA workout buddy Jackie to come to church with him.  And.  She.  Came.  And she keeps showing up.  All the research shows that the best way to grow a church is not for the priest to come up with clever new programs and things “for the kids.”  No, the best way to grow the church—to spread the love of God—is for the members to invite people to come to church.  And that’s what Ed Hill did.

On page 304 of the prayer book, in the Baptismal Covenant, we promise to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.”  That is a veritable checklist of how Ed Hill lived his life.  Learning about God with his friends, receiving the Sacrament, and praying in this room.  Dr. Hill kept his promise to do those exact things right up until the end.

In the gospel reading we heard just a little while ago, Jesus has gathered the disciples and is telling them that he must leave them now.  But he tells them they need not worry nor be troubled, because they know the way.  And Thomas—the logical guy—says, “Uh Jesus?  No offense but, we don’t even know where you are going.  How can we possibly know ‘the way’?”

And Jesus says to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Edward Hill knew the way and the truth and the life.  And that’s why he kept showing up here every single Sunday.  He lived his life knowing Jesus, knowing God’s love, knowing that the good news is something you tell your friends about.  What made Ed Hill such a remarkable man wasn’t what he knew, but who he knew.  Not what Ed accomplished, but what Jesus accomplished for him and through him.  It was an honor to know Dr. Edward Hill, and it was always a pleasure to spend time with him, because Ed knew the Way.


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