Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16, 2009

Burial Office
Theresa Maud “Molly” Strong
October 12, 1930 – September 13, 2009

Click Here for Obituary Notice

First of all, I would say simply a word of welcome to all, in this gathering of family and friends, as we offer our prayers for Molly, remembering her today as daughter and sister, aunt and great-aunt, and good friend, and honoring and remembering her as well in her ministry as a nurse, and especially in her care for children over so many years, and as a member of the community of faith in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of this parish of St. Andrew’s here in Highland Park, and before that of St. Luke’s Church in Bloomfield: Grace to you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer that this time, this afternoon, will be a meaningful and loving time for you as you come together. Certainly your love and commitment is a testimony to Molly’s wonderful influence and presence in your lives, and these days will be a time for many stories of the past, and for a deepening of the care that you continue to share with one another. We hear a word from scripture about hope, about the sustaining hand of God, as we are all in his hand, and as Molly now is embraced and carried home with the promise of new life in Christ, and life eternal.

She would have been 79 next month, which is an amazing thing to say, to think about. Remembering growing up in Pittsburgh in the midst of the Great Depression, and as a teenager during the War, and then into her adulthood. A long and gifted life, the better part of a century. Molly fits into the later end of the group that Tom Brokaw calls “The Greatest Generation.” And for me that has to do not so much with the big historical events, but with the hard work of day to day life through such challenging times, and the deep and solid values that made that possible: faith, hard work, family, courage, love of family, neighborhood, and country. They were heroes, some on the battlefields and some at home, but certainly none of us would be where we are today without their sacrifices and their determination. They made possible so much of the greatness of our country over this past century.

And now, from strength to strength, from life here to greater life, as we have been promised, the holy hope that we would affirm today. This wonderful passage from John 14: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

Modern translations sometimes change this. “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” And in a way that makes sense. Houses have “rooms,” after all. But I’m going to stick with “mansions,” because I think that word directs us to a deeper truth, which is that the future that God has in mind for us, and the eternal life that Molly enjoys, is no ordinary life. It is an eternal life of abundance, and joy, and peace, and fulfillment. To be with Christ, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” This is the hope and certainty that was the foundation of Molly’s life and her faith, and it is the promise that we can all hear and receive and share this afternoon as well.

Molly and I think Jean too always loved when we were able to have our group of Christmas Carol singers stop by the house over on Avondale and a few times as well in recent years up in Greenfield, to sing the traditional songs of the season. And she loved to have a tray of cookies and treats to share, especially if we had children along to sing.

And so as we remember this gentle and graceful and generous friend, as she loved her Irish heritage and her family and took such a great interest in everyday life, and with her determination to come to church on Sunday mornings, no matter how difficult that had become in recent years--we would be right to think even here in the month of September about the miracle of Christmas, and about the one who was born for us, to change the direction of the world and to bring us to himself through his life and his death and his resurrection.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” And to say simply that Molly is home now, after some difficult years—and I know Jean as you have been such a great sister, after some challenging days for you too during these last few years. She is home now, in the place our Lord has prepared for her, and sharing the hope we can all share and enjoy this afternoon and always.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, and may Light Perpetual shine upon them. As we pray for Molly today. May she rest in peace, and rise in glory. Amen.

Bruce Robison

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