Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Burial of Ruth Lash

The Burial of Ruth Lash
Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 23
Revelation 21:2-7
John 6:37-40

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

We have gathered here today to say our final goodbyes to a remarkable woman.   Ruth Lash lived a long, full life, as a caregiver, teacher, and trailblazer.  As the priest of this church, I know she influenced generations of members, and she holds a special place in my heart, knowing she was among first women to serve on our Vestry.  That cannot have been easy; but it definitely was necessary.

I have heard from her daughter Susan, that Ruth loved the 23rd Psalm.  And Ruth had the experience I’ve seen many people have toward the end of their lives, of sort of “waking up” when they hear the familiar words being read to them.

And many of us share her love of that little piece of poetry.  Maybe it’s the pastoral imagery.  Or maybe it’s the assurance of God’s presence in our lives.  Or may it’s just that final line, about dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

But what I really love about Psalm 23 is the actual language of the part that gets translated as goodness and mercy following me.  The Hebrew word that becomes “following” is actually more like chasing, or hunting down.  Goodness and mercy don’t follow us home, like a stray kitten.  No, God’s goodness and mercy hunt us down like a tiger.  We cannot escape God’s goodness and mercy, even if we wanted to.

Ruth lived her life hunted down by God’s mercy and goodness, and she did not mind getting caught.  And receiving that goodness and mercy from God, she turned right around and passed it on to others, her family, her friends, her community, and her church.  Ruth responded to God’s love by passing it on to others, and I hope you will take inspiration from that and continue to do the same in your own lives.

In the Gospel reading we just heard, Jesus says, “This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”  This is my absolute favorite verse in the whole Bible.  Jesus will lose nothing and no one.  Ever.

Although Ruth is lost to us—while we continue our earthly pilgrimage—she never was, and is not now, lost to God.  Jesus does not lose what is his.  We are precious in his sight, and he holds us tightly throughout our lives, even when we don’t notice that we are being held.  Ruth was given to Jesus in Baptism.  Just as you were given to God in your Baptism.  Jesus is holding onto Ruth, and Jesus is holding onto you.

Jesus said, “This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”  May we all trust in the promises of Jesus, and live our lives knowing that we too will be raised up on the last day.  Because we are precious in God’s sight, we belong to Jesus, and Jesus does not lose what is his.


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