Friday, August 7, 2009

August 7, 2009

Burial Office
Michael Dean Eversmeyer
May 19, 1953 – August 2, 2009
Romans 8; Matthew 6; John 14

Click for Tribute to Mike Eversmeyer

Click for the Family Notice

Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more. Death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once, but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Alleluia.

Janna, Alex, James, family and friends, it is a privilege, a sad privilege though, for me to stand here this afternoon, to say a word about the core of Christian life—about faith, hope, and love, about the Cross and the Empty tomb, Good Friday and Easter—as we come together with so many feelings, thoughts, memories, to give thanks for Mike’s life--husband and father, son, brother, who entered greater life this past Sunday morning, after this very difficult time these past few months, and really for most of the last year.

I know it was a wearing, tiring, difficult, painful time for him, and for all of you, and I do want to say to you a word of thanks and appreciation--for him, and for you, for the spirit of grace and gentle love, with dignity and compassion and courage—I think that’s the best word—that has shown through it all. Mike was a person of strength and dignity and compassion and courage in so many ways all his life, and it really did shine through in this last year, in him and in all of you.

And Janna, you and Mike have shared this long life and marriage together, your thirty-fourth anniversary just a short time ago. I appreciated so much your suggestion of this reading from St. Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount. “Consider the lilies of the field.” You told me that was the reading at the service of your marriage, and I think that seems just right for both of you, and in a couple of ways.

Part of what Jesus is talking about here is about a life that is devoted to something more important than the outward signs of success. A life that is free to follow the stirrings that God places in our hearts. Not necessarily always making the choices that bring fame and fortune, but having a sense of deeper and truer priorities. That seems to me to be so true about Mike—what made him great as an architect and community leader, and in life here around the church. It didn’t need to be about him. And that seems so true to me too about your family. About decisions to be a teacher or a nurse, for example. Values that are part of who the parents are, that get passed on to the children, generation after generation.

And Alex and James, I know that you know this, but I want to say and remind you this afternoon, because it is so fresh in my mind, how much your dad loved you, how much he respected you as you have grown now into young adulthood. Even during this past summer, as he was dealing with so much discomfort and sickness, and with all the emotions of his own life situation, he would time and again talk with me, Alex, about your new teaching job, and how exciting that was for him, and James, about your job at the hospital and about the direction of your life and career in nursing.

He loved you both and was, and is, so incredibly proud of who you are and what you have accomplished, and of the good things that are ahead for you in the years to come. He wanted to be here to enjoy it all with you and to watch your adventures as they would unfold, and I know that was so much of his sadness in these past weeks. But I also know that he continues as a part your lives, as a part of the great cloud of witnesses, from new perspectives and in ways beyond our understanding. He will always be with you.

And of course the other part of “Consider the lilies of the field” is how it calls us to notice and appreciate the wonderful and breathtaking beauty that is around us as a gift. A field or a park or a city garden, a landscaped backyard, a castle or a simple Victorian house on a sidestreet. Again, it is a sense that world can have this grace and beauty about it, and that what we do, how we make things, build things, design things, repair and restore things, how all of that can lift our hearts and bless our lives.

A good reading for your marriage, 34 years ago, and a good reading to hear again today, as we turn the page, and a different chapter begins.

Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more. From the Pascha Nostrum, the ancient Christian hymn for Easter, as we light the Paschal Candle for this service this afternoon. A song of joy, triumph, victory. A song full of the promise of new life and life abundant fully transfigured and eternal, as we share with Christ in his resurrection.

Some of the rich poetry in scripture and tradition will talk about death as “the old enemy.” But that’s really I think not quite right. As we affirm the precious character of human life and relationships, the love of marriage, the joy of being husband and son, brother and father, a life of creativity, the breadth and depth of emotional and intellectual experience, the adventure and joy of so many activities.

As Christian people we would simply affirm in this moment that death has no power over any of that. No power at all. None. Through the mystery of our baptism and through the power of what Christ has done for us at the Cross—in the words of scripture, “life is changed, not ended.” We move from strength to strength, in that greater life, the life of perfect service, that he has had in mind for us since the first breath and dawn and morning of the universe.

A reading from the 14th Chapter of St. John:

Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto him, Lord we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions.

Some contemporary translations give us this word from Jesus in John 14 as “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” Which I guess makes sense, and which may be truer to the pattern of Greek as it is heard not in 16th century English but at the beginning of the 21st Century. But I want to say this afternoon, as we commend Mike Eversmeyer--who was such a great architect and someone who knew just about everything you need to know about structure and design and building and beauty—as we commend him into the arms of our generous God, as we affirm our bonds in Jesus Christ for this life and the life to come, that there is a mansion prepared for him, and for all of us. Of a grandeur and a glory and an abundance beyond anything we can imagine. Although in my mind’s eye Mike is there now looking at that mansion with an interested eye, to say “I have an idea about a way to restore that back stairway . . . .”

But with seriousness of mind and heart: the fullness of sharing with Christ. As he said, “that where I am, there ye may be also.”

As we express our friendship and sympathy today, acknowledging what is lost, may all that be embraced in a spirit of hope and expectation--as we are born in him in baptism, as Mike was 56 years ago born to new life in his baptism, as we live, as we die, and as we are reborn in his image and presence, to live in all fullness in the place, in the mansion, he has prepared for us.

Again, may our Lord bless and keep you.

Bruce Robison

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