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.