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Archive for the ‘Funeral’ Category

Funeral Homily for Bonnie Milliner

Last week, as we heard about Bonnies illness and death, I came back to that image, but it was changed in my mind because I was thinking instead about how music was deep in her soul. I imagined the notes as souls encircling our world, the way you see pictures of angels on Christmas cards. Let’s take a minute to imagine this: a ring of music around us celebrating life and the Maker of all. What note do you think Bonnie would be? Would she be part of sacred music or would she be in charge of musical theatre?

There are two things humans fear, silence and the unknown. You might say that you crave silence, but we live in a noisy world, and even at night, there are not just the natural sounds of the earth and the creatures, but also human banging and crashing around in factories, on highways. As a child, I would sometimes stay with one of my maritime aunties at her farm on the ocean. I was frightened of the nights because, without the moon, the darkness seemed absolute, and the silence was thunderous, except for the waves on the shore. Someone told me not to be afraid. What I was experiencing was eternity. It did not seem all that attractive then, but now I am at peace with the soft blanket of night, and faith that what I cannot hear, can still be heard by God at least and that every prayer in love, reaches out to embrace and heal.

Jesus models for us that his path is not the path of certainty or safe passage, but rather that his path requires us to face suffering and our fears, our insecurities. We often prefer the impassive version of Jesus because it is less challenging than the Jesus who weeps, and laughs, feasts and makes new and improbable friends. This Jesus goes to the cross, himself afraid and unsure, feeling abandoned and alone. Of course, he is not alone. He is tied to the Holy Spirit, the force of creativity and change. And he rises to show us that the unknown will become known in new and unimagined ways. He rises and all around his teaching, new prayer, new actions, new work springs up as if there had been a plan for it.

Resurrection is a process and like all meaningful process, it will be sacrificial. We will have to get out of the boat and swim. We will have to leave what we love behind until we rediscover it on a farther shore. This is I believe is an eternal process. The Maker of all has chosen tiny, flawed humans to be the messengers that, in God’s economy, nothing is lost, but also nothing is static. We follow Jesus, sometimes shakily, sometimes with confidence, but if we still our minds, we can hear Jesus calling to us that we are precious, we are beloved, we are held firmly in the heart and mind of the Holy One.

And now, we prepare ourselves to release Bonnie to her job in the celestial choir, and we open ourselves to wonder and hope, as we step into the next chapter of our stories. In those memories and in that history, Bonnie is present with you forever. She will certainly always be present in this church. She, as we say, has been born into a new and living hope.

The next time you see the stars twinkling above you, remember, a universe awash in music and creativity. Remember that your soul and your body are an essential part of this cosmic symphony. Let us give thanks for Bonnie’s life that has called us together this morning and for faith that that love holds us together forevermore.

Funeral Homily for Bill Taylor

Today we give thanks for Bill Taylor. He will be missed, but never forgotten. The legacy he has left for his family and community is woven into the fabric of his relationships. The last time I saw Bill, I was rushing through Guelph General. I heard someone call my name, and when I looked around, there was Bill at a volunteer table. 

As Christians, we understand that great love will always carry some grief with it. That grief is the healing balm for loss; it is the impetus to remember and to flesh out our memories.  It takes the time it takes, for grief and love to find a balance in our hearts. 

The Spirit of transformation is ever with us, changing us and adjusting our memories and our understanding of our relationship. I think that it is in our loneliness and in our awareness of suffering, that we are most like the holy one because that pain causes us to reach out to each other, to let ourselves be changed, to seek the meaning beyond the moment. In the beginning, God desires creatures who can learn and change, creatures built for an unfolding cosmos. As part of this creation, this body of holiness, we are invited to remember that we are not in fact alone, but have been created to be in relationship with everything else living.

And St. Paul says, how are the dead raised. We have some scientific observation to help us with this. We know that life is always changing. Rain falls and becomes rivers, lakes, oceans. Some of that water becomes us as we drink. If we wake up early enough by a body of water, we will see the mist rising into the morning. And the the mist will disappear, but not the constituent elements, those hydrogen and oxygen elements which will morph into another form. 

I think it helps us to remember that we are made in love and cannot be severed from God, even when we wriggle and fight. We are a part of all that is. Bill has not been lost, as some say, but rather rediscovered within God’s loving hands. He is as close as your memory and yet invisible to the touch. We want to hang on, but he is being immersed in God’s plan for him and for each of us.

Birth and death are two difficult doorways, but when we push through

Today we give thanks for Bill Taylor. He will be missed, but never forgotten. The legacy he has left for his family and community is woven into the fabric of his relationships. The last time I saw Bill, I was rushing through Guelph General. I heard someone call my name, and when I looked around, there was Bill at a volunteer table. 

As Christians, we understand that great love will always carry some grief with it. That grief is the healing balm for loss; it is the impetus to remember and to flesh out our memories.  It takes the time it takes, for grief and love to find a balance in our hearts. 

The Spirit of transformation is ever with us, changing us and adjusting our memories and our understanding of our relationship. I think that it is in our loneliness and in our awareness of suffering, that we are most like the holy one because that pain causes us to reach out to each other, to let ourselves be changed, to seek the meaning beyond the moment. In the beginning, God desires creatures who can learn and change, creatures built for an unfolding cosmos. As part of this creation, this body of holiness, we are invited to remember that we are not in fact alone, but have been created to be in relationship with everything else living.

And St. Paul says, how are the dead raised. We have some scientific observation to help us with this. We know that life is always changing. Rain falls and becomes rivers, lakes, oceans. Some of that water becomes us as we drink. If we wake up early enough by a body of water, we will see the mist rising into the morning. And the the mist will disappear, but not the constituent elements, those hydrogen and oxygen elements which will morph into another form. 

I think it helps us to remember that we are made in love and cannot be severed from God, even when we wriggle and fight. We are a part of all that is. Bill has not been lost, as some say, but rather rediscovered within God’s loving hands. He is as close as your memory and yet invisible to the touch. We want to hang on, but he is being immersed in God’s plan for him and for each of us.

Birth and death are two difficult doorways, but when we push through, how much bigger, more colourful, more challenging and amazing life looks. From a microscopic cell to a creature who can imagine universes, stars, butter tarts! Life is. Love is. Everything else is either a challenge or a gift on the journey.

So hold Bill close in your hearts, remember him with both tears and laughter and trust God that Bill is in good hands. And for you, remember, life is necessarily shared. Nothing is lost forever. Everything lives within the mind of God whose only promise to us is life.