Greater Love…

Harry Potter #4 Resurrection  

I Corinthians 15:20-26; Hebrews 11:32-12:3

Wednesday morning as we stood at the graveside for a parishioner’s committal, I asked everyone present to pause for a moment of prayerful silence and look around at our view of hope, listening for, feeling the Holy Spirit’s presence there with us. And as we looked out across the cemetery, I noted that all of the dear ones buried there have handed down gifts and bequeathed legacies that have given shape to who we are and who we will yet become. Now, that sounds beautiful and true and I think it is, or I wouldn’t have said it. But those words also run the risk of glossing over other truths. I walk through our cemetery often and find it to be a place of peace and serenity where I feel God’s Presence a little easier. But as I walk, it’s also hard to miss all the tragic stories this place holds. Babies are buried out there, children, teenagers, young adults, young mothers and fathers. So many tears have been shed on that ground. If you allow yourself to be truly present, when you walk among the graves, you don’t only feel hope, your senses also tune to the heart break. And I think that’s likely why it’s such a prayerful place.

I have a crazy quilt up here this morning. We think if was sewn by my great grandma. This quilt is an analogy for our lives. You see, we live our lives just a few pieces at a time. And before you know it, a few years have passed and you’ve created a whole block. And when you are in this nice peachy orange area and life is just going along, you can maybe make out a few other blocks, past seasons from your life, but mostly you are taken up in whatever present piece you occupy at the moment. And if you find yourself in a rougher area or on a dark patch, chances are good that at that point in life, it’s really hard to see beyond just that little piece of fabric. But as you go through life, you are also moving yourself over all these different areas. And here’s the thing about a crazy quilt. It’s far from perfect. There are places where the fabric is puckered. The binding isn’t sewn straight. Really, the materials don’t go together well at all. You see this really beautiful red velvet is hemmed in on one side by ugly tie material and on the other side with a coarse cotton.

However, stand back and you see something right and whole and I will say beautiful too, because I love crazy quilts. But even if a crazy quilt isn’t your thing, hopefully you see up here a work of art that is totally unique, something that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. This 20 block quilt represents a long life, well lived.

On weeks when I have a funeral to plan for and lead, many of you often express concern for me and I really appreciate that. And yes, it does mean longer hours and a little less sleep, a little less time with my family. But just for a week. The truth is, and I have heard many other pastors say the same thing, being able to do a funeral for someone who lived a long life, someone who completed all 20 squares, and even more importantly, someone who over the course of their life had come to meet their Maker and was at peace with going Home to be with God, well, it is truly my joy and privilege to be part of a funeral like that. Because here’s what I get to do. I get to take all the stories and memories you’ve shared with me over the years. I get to take all of my own personal visits and impressions and I get to take all the spoken cherished remembrances and emotions and tributes of the family and then weave all that together with scripture and present this crazy quilt of a person’s life lived in faithfulness to God.