Thursday, November 14, 2013

Funeral Sermon for a Friend

So, last week I was drinking bitter beers for my bitter mood over the death of a friend.  I was honored to preach and preside at her funeral.  It was a testament to her love for this community that over 275 people showed up to her funeral.  It was a  particular challenge to preach this funeral because I needed to personally grieve, but also not make it about me.  When I sat down to write, I stared at the screen for a long time.  I didn't know what to say.  Finally, I realized that I could only tell what I knew.  Below is the text of this sermon, interspersed with the Beers I am drinking today at my watering hole. The Gospel Passage was John 6:37-40.

“This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” [John 6:40]

I speak with you in the name of God who will never lose us, never let us go, and never forget us. Amen!

So, I woke up every morning of the last week to a world without Chrissy Simmons in it. I don’t know how that is possible. How does the earth literally keep moving without Chrissy’s sheer force of will driving it ever forward? I don’t know the answer to that question, and I don’t know if I ever will. But I want to tell you somethings I do know.

I know that Chrissy was loyal. She was loyal to Carl, loyal to this congregation, and above all a loyal faithful servant of God. There are few people whose life touched as many people as Chrissy’s. You just have to look at this packed room and know that she touched a lot of hearts. She did this not through power or position; rather through service. She truly loved her neighbor as herself, and she did it to a degree to which few can compare. 

Time for a beer break:

This is the 2011 Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing.  It is fantastic!!! There is little bit of spice up front, but it is malty smooth almost like a milk shake. The flavor is rich but balanced with a clean finish.  Even though it is 10% ABV the alcohol is not overpowering.  
Back to the Sermon:  

I also know for sure that I was a little afraid of Chrissy. She was, most likely, the most intense person I have ever met. She was passionate. She felt nothing lightly, every emotion was intense, every opinion strongly held, and she shared her opinions and emotions with everyone. She quite possibly was more intense than another Matriarch of this Congregation who I loved deeply and was also a little afraid, Mrs. Lorraine Sailes.

Most importantly, I know that God loses nothing. Chrissy is most certainly caught up in the risen life of Christ today. She is most certainly a driving force of the Kingdom of God this day, and she is most certainly raising Cain with Mrs. Lorraine over the heavenly potluck.

But where does that leave all of us? While we most certainly rejoice that Chrissy is caught up in God, we are left with a gaping painful wound as well. What will we ever do without her?

Time for one more Beer before I answer that...

This is the Jubelale from Deschutes Brewing.  It is a little hoppy with medium body.  Interestingly enough there is almost a celery aftetaste.  The aroma is really light.  All in all its a good beer, but not my favorite holiday beer.

Alright, time to finish the sermon:
  This question leads me to what I know next. No one person can ever replace Chrissy, in our hearts, in our community, and in our life together. However, I have an idea, and I think it is important. No single one of us could do it alone. It will take all of us together. What if we all let our light shine just a bit brighter today? What if we all loved a little more today? What if we made our loved ones smile one extra time or laugh at one more joke? What if we made a stranger smile one extra time or laugh at one more joke? What if we all served our neighbors, this congregation, and our community just a little more. Maybe....just maybe...if we all do this together then we can approach, maybe even come near, the amount of Light and Joy that left us last week. 

Finally, I know this without a shadow of doubt, if we don’t try our very best--I mean our absolute very very best--you better believe Chrissy will have something to say about it. Amen!

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