Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Showing up for one another, Funeral homily for Camilla "Mickey" Owen, March 6, 2017

It doesn't matter if we are fully prepared for the death of our loved one, or we've spent hours and days at their bedside keeping vigil, it's still hard, probably the hardest thing we do. But sacred, probably the most important thing we do. Camilla, Katherine, Courtney, and Paul, and Scott, you have done what you were called to do, with love and care. And it is enough.

So, being here, in the church, is a good place to be. You see, here we believe that Love wins. We believe that God loves us abundantly and absolutely. We believe that in the muck and the mess of this life, in the midst of our brokenness, our strength, our fragility and fortitude, God is. We believe that God is in our midst, Jesus. And we believe that everyone matters, because every one of us is created in God's image, no matter what.

So when we say these words of the burial of the dead, and when we read these stories, we believe that all of our grief, and all of our love, and all of our hope, and all of our sadness, is held, and honored, and healed. What that means is that each and every one of us is God's beloved. We know that because we experience the reality of life and all that it brings to us. We experience the joy and the suffering, we experience the happiness and the pain, we experience our own giftedness and shortcomings. We miss the mark, we are not perfect, but we are perfectly loved. And when we miss the mark we ask forgiveness. Life is messy, but we know that we are loved, and when we cannot remember that, and we do often forget, we gather together.

We know the story of Jesus' life, suffering, death and resurrection is true because it is the reality of our lives.

We experience our own suffering, and deaths all the time. Loss and grief are prevalent in our lives, but so is resurrection. So is the new life that always arises out of our losses and our sadness. And that is where we put our hope today.

God came into this world, into our midst, to show us that death does not have dominion, that the material demise of our bodies is not the end of the story and that there is a place prepared for us where there is no more pain and suffering. The ultimate story is the story of resurrection and new life.

We chose this passage from Revelation, “See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they will be God's people, and God will be with them; God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. And the one who was seated on the throne said,
“See, I am making all things new.”

God loves God's creation so very much, God loves us so very much, that God dwells with us, God makes God's home with us. God shows up for us, so that we can show up for others. That’s what you are all doing today, showing up for one another, showing up because showing up matters.

So today we celebrate this life well lived, we are sad, and in the midst of the sadness, the good news remains. God prepares a place for us, God brings new life to us, and our hope rests in this new creation, this resurrection. Our hope rests in the story that the work Jesus does on the cross matters. And what Jesus does on the cross is to collect all of the pain and suffering of this world, and Jesus takes it and holds it in love.

Jesus doesn’t take away pain and sorrow.
Jesus embraces our pain and sorrow,

And Jesus is the reason we rejoice today. It is this truth of what God in Jesus does in life, and on the cross, and in the resurrection that we celebrate Mickey's life today. It is the truth that God lived and died as one of us, that connects us to each other, and gives us the strength and courage to love one another in our sadness and in our joy. God comes to be with us, so that we may be new creations. God comes to be with us, so that our pain and suffering, may rise out of the ashes and are made absolutely new. God comes to be with us to show us that Love heals, and that Love wins.

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