I had the privilege of taking the funeral of our friend Lynne the other week. She was a wonderful woman full of dignity and grace. The church was full with people who brought with them their own memories of who Lynne was and the time they had spent with her. Tom has written his own reflections on the kind of woman Lynne was.
Funerals are a needed event. We need them in order that we might say good-bye well and be able to step into the next part of our lives. It is important that we commit ourselves and those who have died to God.
Here is the sermon that I shared at Lynne's funeral:
'We have heard stories and memories of Lynne, stories that have given us a glimpse into who she was and her life story. Each of us will bring our own memories and stories of our time with Lynne, and in the act of remembering we recognise how much we loved her. And it is because we loved her so much we find her death hurts us so much. It is like an icy wind blowing into our faces and we fear we might never find shelter.
The reality is that we live in a world of suffering and death. The Christian faith is not there to provide answers about suffering. God does give us answers to the problem of suffering, rather he gives us his Son.
In Jesus we discover a God who walks with us through our suffering. We discover a God who fully knows us and has fully known what it means to be human; the baby in need an vulnerability; the man experiencing trial and temptation; the friend who weeps at the loss of a loved one. And this same Jesus has walked through the valley of the shadow of death and has taken all its pain and brutality upon himself on the cross. He has walked the road of death for each one of us and has emerged from it in glorious resurrection so that we can be freed from the claws of death and one day know the joy of life and love in God's presence.
Until that day however we glimpse at that future reality and live in the tension of pain and joy today. The pain of suffering today, but the joy that this God, this Jesus, can be known today in relationship, can transform our today and give us hope for tomorrow. This is the God who seeks to walk in relationship with us, through our joys and our sorrows, giving us himself that we might know ourselves.
This Jesus holds his hands out today to offer you comfort.
Hands that wiped tears from his eyes at the death of his friend.
Hands that were nailed to a cross.
Hands that were raised in triumph at the resurrection.
And now hands that take hold of Lynne's hand, leading her into the presence of the living God.
Hands that seek to comfort you today, sheltering you from that icy wind.
Hands that seek to lead you and guide you throughout your life, that in the midst of your joy and your sorrow, you might know a God who loves you.'