Saturday, September 6, 2008

February 28, 2008

February 28, 2008 Burial Office and Memorial

Margaret Jean Gochigian, November 12, 1942 – February 23, 2008

We come together this morning to remember Margie. To give thanks to God for the gift of her life, for her friendship, for everything that she could be and that she wanted to be for her family and those who loved her. We are here to reflect on the words of Holy Scripture, on promises and assurances that we have in Christ of life that begins here in him and that continues in him forever. From the brokenness of our sin, to the deepest experience of healing. Forgiveness. The embrace of our Heavenly Father.

This was the meaning of those prayers that I shared with her this past Saturday morning, a few hours before her entrance into greater life, in her room up in the Passavant Hospital, as she was anointed and blessed and commended to God’s loving care. We are here this morning to share a sense of friendship, and of the love and faithfulness of this family. And I would just say a word here Helen and Marion of the great love that you have shown to all of us with Margie over these past few years especially. May this be a time when for us all, even in a time of sadness, hope springs up new and fresh and in a meaningful way.

In my Father’s house are many mansions. Margaret Jean Gochigian was born on the 11th day of November, 1942, daughter of Samuel and Florence--and it was so nice yesterday to see some of those wonderful family photos from the 1940's, parents and grandmother and these three sisters at your home down on Collins Avenue. Some months later she was baptized at the font of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, our little parish over in Highland Park, which is where her burial today is being recorded as well. That was on August 15 in the next year, 1943. The priest who administered the baptism was one of my predecessors, the Rev. Howard Paul Pullin, Rector of St. Andrew’s, and Margie’s godparents were Jack and Hosannah Kavorkian. I’m sure that was a wonderful day in the parish and in your family. And a few years later, on February 6, 1955, the Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop William Thomas, came to St. Andrew’s Church, and Margie received the Sacrament of Confirmation. And Marion, I noticed in the Register that you were confirmed on the same day, two sisters in the same quite large class. I’ve heard some stories about Bishop Thomas and I know his son, Fr. John Thomas, who is a retired priest here in our diocese. He was a man who liked a formal and solemn and magnificent service, so I’m sure it was a most impressive and joyful day at St. Andrew’s, and in your family.

And so the years have rolled on, for Margie and for all of us. Some better years for her, and some times of struggle. What I know for sure is that for Margie her greatest joy and support and consolation always has come from her family—and especially to know her love for her sisters and her nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews, and I know how much their love for her was such a gift in her life. Her eyes would just light up and sparkle when she would talk about the kids.

Sometimes she didn’t think she could keep going, these last few years, and I think any of us would understand why, and her world got smaller and smaller and more difficult. But when she wasn’t home, home was where she wanted to be—and I think not just because of the obvious reasons of comfort and privacy, but also because home represented for her something more than just a house, a place to live. It was a place where she could feel most connected to her family. And I think again of the words from the reading from St. John. I go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am, there you may be also. And I think I would also mention as I think about Margie and her life in connection to St. Andrew’s how much I know she appreciated the time in the last couple of years especially with our Lay Eucharistic Visitors. She told me more than once just how much that meant to her. A sense of connection, acceptance, forgiveness, of belonging, in the wider family of Christ. Many different ways of thinking about home.

Today, this Thursday morning, we are exactly half-way through the season of Lent, half-way between Ash Wednesday and the first dawn on Easter morning, and it is a time when every year, in Lent, we are invited by the Church to step back for a few moments from the routines of our lives and to open our minds and our hearts and our imaginations, to have Jesus in our thoughts, to picture ourselves with him, to listen again to his words as though we were hearing them for the first time, to imagine ourselves walking with him up and down through the highways and byways of his world, to share with him the days in Jerusalem, and the last hours on Good Friday, to stand near him as he is on the Cross. To allow those thoughts and times of reflection and prayer and imagination to be a seed planted in the soil of our lives, to grow in us, to give us a renewed sense of understanding and identity of our life in Christ. Of his love for us, and of the hope we can have of his faithfulness. I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also. The promise for Margie. And for each one of us. And as we spend our time in visiting today, in conversation, family and friends, with memories and stories and conversation, may that promise also settle deeply in our hearts. And may the Lord bless Margie, as she is received into that home, that “mansion,” that has been created especially for her in the Father’s house. She is finally at home. May she rest in peace, and rise in glory. Amen.

Bruce Robison

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