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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Walking anew in the fullness of life

We remembered a beloved member of our community today, celebrated her accomplishments and prayed her into eternity.

Funeral homily for Miriam Davis

Our sister Miriam spent a little more than nine decades living on this earth.  Those of us who have had the privilege of sharing the journey with her have gathered today to give thanks to God for the remarkable privilege of being able to count her as a part of our family, a confidante, a source of wisdom and an example of joyful faith.  Thank you Jim for sharing your recollections of her, and thank you to both Stephen and Paul for proclaiming the words of scripture that have been chosen to set the framework for our celebration today.

In the waters of baptism, Miriam became a child of God.  She lived her faith at every moment: sharing more than 60 years of married life with her beloved husband; rejoicing in every one of her son’s accomplishments; joyfully celebrating the milestones reached by her siblings, and deeply cherishing every one of the joyful moments she shared with her nephews, her grandsons and her great-grandson.  Friends, colleagues and others whose paths have crossed hers have spoken in recent days of their memories of her sitting at a card table with them, and about the many occasions they sat at her table to break bread with her.

Yet, there is another reason for our gathering this morning.  We are here, gathered around this table to celebrate Miriam’s birthday in heaven.  This joyous celebration was foreshadowed on another day, many years ago, when she was baptized into Christ Jesus (Rom 6:3), when she became one of his precious children.  To be a child of God, baptized into Christ Jesus, means that we are part of him, and he is the one who teaches us every day how to die to ourselves and to believe that just as Christ was raised from the dead ... so we too will one day walk in the newness of life (Rom 6:4).

Every one of God’s children has been entrusted with this promise.  We will all one day walk in the newness of life.  This is the reason for our joy, for the love and warmth with which Miriam greeted each day and each person who she met.  In words and in action, she was a living example for us of a disciple of Jesus, one who has discovered his will for her, one who has heard his words, one who is coming to believe in him.  Jesus has taught us about his Father, the one who is our Father, and he has taught us that the will of our Father is that we will all be raised up on the last day (Jn 6:39) to walk in the newness of life and to live forever with him in heaven.

Those who have known and loved Miriam now feel as though a part of us is gone.  There is an emptiness within, but we believe that her soul is in the hands of God, and no torment can ever touch her now (Wis 3:1).  This is the moment for which she has waited for nine long decades. She who trusted in him will now abide with him in love (Wis 3:9) and from her place in heaven, she will continue to watch over us as we continue to make our way along the journey.  Like Miriam, we too believe that this journey will lead us one day to the newness of life.  As we make our way, we will from time to time encounter struggles and obstacles, but we also count on God’s gifts of grace and mercy.  These are the gifts he shares with us, his holy children as we watches over us and yearns for us to live with him.
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