Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Burial Office
Ann Elizabeth Morton Brown
October 25, 1936 – December 20, 2010

Friends, again grace and peace to you, on this winter morning, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank you for coming to share in this time of worship and memory, as we give thanks for Ann’s life, as we offer our prayers in worship, and as we would offer our deepest thoughts and words of encouragement and condolence and friendship. Remembering Ann, who was daughter, sister and sister-in-law, aunt for her niece and nephews, mother and grandmother, wife, colleague, friend, and neighbor.

And of course there are so many rich memories. We’ve heard some wonderful stories this morning, and I know there are more to be told later, and with many moments that will remain with us and in our hearts always. Whether in the neighborhood, up on Winterton, with so many good friends over so many years. It was really fun that even with all that was going on with her medical condition this past summer Ann was able to participate in the Fourth of July parade.

And in her work. I was telling Amelia and David the other day that I don’t think I had a single conversation with Ann over the 17 years that I’ve known her that didn’t include something about her work. She was so passionately committed to it, and it meant so much to her that her work was truly a contribution that in this vitally important field of cancer research would truly make a difference in people’s lives. And she always spoke of her friends and colleagues with such respect and such affection.

And she was so proud of David, and she loved Amelia, and she loved truly being grandmother for Ada and Breyton. And of course Don. A half century of married life, with all the twists and turns, day by day and year in and year out, sharing in his life as he shared in hers. And she loved coming down here, sometimes with Don and sometimes by herself, for Sunday morning services, and always at the 11 o’clock, because she loved the music so much. So, indeed, a great many memories.

As I was preparing for this service this morning I went back to take a look at the sermon I preached at our service here for Don in the late spring of 2009. That was such a hard time, as he and they were working so hard together to get a handle on her illness—and then to have him suddenly fall ill. And as he was caring for her, then she also needed to care for him. What struck me at that time was how much Ann and Don both had met that challenge, and here I’m quoting myself, with “grace and gentle love, with dignity, care for one another, with compassion. And with courage. The word that comes to mind to me. Courage.”

And I would say truly here this morning that all those meaningful words come alive for me again as I think about Ann as she continued over the year and a half since Don’s death. Love, dignity, care, compassion, and courage. Those all continue to seem the right words to use. Even in the very last days, moving from home to hospital and then to hospice: love, dignity, care, compassion, courage. I could see that in her, and I could see that so vividly in so many ways in those who cared for her and who watched with her.

It was of course a privilege of mine to pray with her when I would visit, and during her times in the hospital with blessings and as she was anointed just a short time before her death. It certainly was an honor and a gift to know her as her pastor and friend and Highland Park neighbor, and I am very thankful for that.

“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 bring you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.”

As we would come together in this holy place of prayer, with memories and thanksgivings and tributes all encompassing this time of our lives that we have shared with Ann, my prayer would be also that in a simple way this word from our Lord Jesus Christ would rest in our hearts and bless us with a sense also, each one of us, of hope and encouragement. Our time, our lives, our strengths and our weaknesses, our accomplishments, our failures, things done and things left undone, who we are, who we may become, all that rests in his hands. We are his people and sheep of his pasture.

And “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, or any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” May that all be good news for us as we go out into the rest of our lives today. As we visit with one another. As we return to our homes. That we will today and in a way as Ann’s final gift to us have a sense of this generous love.

And as we would stand now and turn in the Blue Hymnal to Hymn 671 and sing together, Amazing Grace.

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