Monday, November 23, 2009

November 24, 2009

Burial Office
Margaret Kirk Stone
November 17, 1928 – November 18, 2009

Click here for newspaper obituary.

First of all, I would say simply a word of welcome to all, in this gathering of family and friends, and especially with a word of care and sympathy and affection to you Susan and Peggy, and your families, as we offer our prayers for Margaret this morning and commend her to God’s love and care. Grace to you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that this time, this morning and then as visiting I know we will all continue today and in the days ahead, will be a meaningful and loving time for you as you come together.

Certainly this gathering today is a testimony in so many ways to Margaret’s influence and presence in all our lives, and this morning we would hear a word from scripture about hope, about the sustaining hand of God, as we are all in his hand, and as she now is embraced and carried home with the promise of new life in Christ, and life eternal.

She had just the day before turned 81. Of the generation coming of age in the Great Depression and during the War, and through the greater part of this past century. A life of rich texture, as for all of us, with mountaintops and valleys, accomplishments, friendships, deep relationships of care--I know so many dear friends for years at Calvary Church, and then for the last dozen years or so here at St. Andrew’s.

I knew her always as a woman of great dignity, grace, and I would say courage. She could see right to the heart of things, and although she was very often a person with a sense of reserve and restraint, she could speak as well with both intelligence and a mature wisdom—and with what could be a quiet but very sharp and pointed sense of humor as well. A woman of deep Christian faith and sustaining commitment throughout her life.

As we talked in preparation for this service, we had before us two requests that Margaret had herself handed on: the Laudate Dominum of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the hymn we’ll sing a bit later in the service, I sing a song of the saints of God. Musically very different, but both seem just right to me as we offer our prayers and thanksgiving this morning.

The text of the Laudate Dominum is Psalm 117: Two simple verses: O Praise the LORD, all ye nations; praise him, all ye peoples. / For his merciful kindness is ever more and more toward us; and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise the LORD.

And to me these words summarize the call of all Christian people, to have at the heart of our lives an attentiveness to the glorious presence and power of God—an almighty power, and this is so important, an almighty power, strength, to be known in us and among us always as “merciful kindness.” That is the nature and character of the loving Father, who meets us and sustains us, corrects and guides us all our life long, and into whose arms we commend Margaret today.

The other text, from “I sing a song,” which we will all sing together, is this fun and energetic and even humorous hymn, written to be sung for and by children and yet for us all as well, a celebration of all God’s people, his saints, those who have gone before us, those we share our lives with today, those who will come after us, redeemed and renewed in Christ. Famous heroes of faith, and those whose names are known to God alone. And I love and always smile with the last part of the concluding stanza: “You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea, for the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too.” The sermon and message Margaret preaches for us this morning. A part of her legacy.

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. And framed for us then in this wonderful and familiar 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.

A mansion is a home of expansive and generous elegance, where every need is provided for, a place of grace and grandeur. Which is what the destiny is that God has in mind for us. Which is the eternal life that Margaret is to enjoy. No ordinary life. An eternal life of abundance, and joy, and peace, and fulfillment. To be with Christ, her Lord and Savior, who said and says to us all, from generation to generation, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

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

Bruce Robison

No comments: