Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Monday, January 17, 2022

Funeral of Judy Wigginton

Burial of Judy Wigginton, 1/17/22
Isaiah 25:6-9
Revelation 21:2-7
John 14:1-6

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

In the gospel reading we just heard, Jesus is talking to his disciples at the Last Supper.  He is explaining to them that he must depart from them, but that they need not be afraid.  And he says, “You know the way to the place where I am going."  And then Thomas says to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Leave it to Thomas to point out the obvious question.  Thomas was not afraid to say the thing that everyone in the room is thinking, but will not say.

I think Judy Wigginton was a lot like Thomas in this way.  Those who knew Judy know that she would just flat out say the thing she was thinking.  Sure, she might tone it down a bit as she said it, but I never had any doubt where Judy stood on things.  Toward the end of last year, she pulled up outside the church and handed me her offering envelope and said, “I’ve increased my pledge this year, even though the priest is a little too liberal for me.”  And I said to her, “Judy . . . if you think your Episcopal priest is too liberal . . . I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you.”

But Judy kept showing up.  Through the days, and years, and decades, Judy kept coming.  She served on every possible committee, chaired things, served as treasurer of things, helped start the book club, maintained the Altars, and on and on.  The priests would come and go, liberal or conservative or in between, and Judy kept showing up.  She was the very model of what it means to belong to a church, and to give your life to it.  And all the while, she kept on speaking her mind, and letting people know what she thought.

I once found a note in the Vestry minutes, written by Judy and one of her friends chastising the priest for not properly using the Priest’s Cross in the correct way during the procession!  I don’t know how this all played out in your relationship with Judy, but I can tell you that I never had to spend one minute asking myself, “I wonder what Judy Wigginton thinks about this?”

Which brings me back to Thomas.  You remember the other well-known story about Thomas?  It’s the one that gives us the phrase Doubting Thomas.  After the resurrection, the other disciples had seen Jesus, and they’re telling Thomas about it.  And he says, unless I see Jesus with my own eyes, I cannot believe.  Thomas did not shirk from hard questions.  He said what he was thinking, even if it was unpopular with those around him.  He brought his gift of forthright speech to the Church, and we honor Thomas for that.

And, today, as we just heard, Jesus tells the disciples, “You know the way to the place where I am going." And our outspoken friend Thomas, says, Um.  Excuse me.  Jesus?  Yeah, um, we don’t even know where you are going. How can we possibly know the way?  And Jesus answers him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  Turns out, Thomas and disciples did know the way, because Jesus is the Way.  And you know why we know that Jesus is the Way?  Because Thomas asked the uncomfortable question, that’s why.

Our beloved Judy knew the Way.  And I am convinced that that is why she was so bold in saying what she thought, in asking the questions nobody else would ask.  She could say that her priest was too liberal to the priest himself!  And I am convinced that she knew I’d be okay with that, because we shared an understanding:  

The understanding we shared is that Judy knew the way, and I know the way, and you know the way, because we know Jesus Christ.  And everything else is just details along our journey home together.  We know the way.  And even better than all that, the Way knows us.  The world is a better place because God gave us Judy, and now in our grief we are sending her back to God.  Jesus has prepared a place for Judy, and Judy knows the Way to that place.  Thanks be to God.


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