Friday, May 9, 2014

Burial Office, May 8, 2014

Beatrice Ann MacGinitie Minkler
July 28, 1939 – May 3, 2014

Jesus, to his disciples,  in the 14th chapter of St. John:  “Whither I go, ye know, and the way ye know.”  He says this in the night of the Last Supper, Maundy Thursday, with the whole story of Good Friday and the Cross about to play out for him and for his friends, and for all of us, at all times and in all places.  In the imagination of our hearts.  You know where I’m going, and you know how to get there.  And of course this afternoon in the Third Week of Eastertide, the guiding light of the Paschal Candle to show the way.  

Bill—and Tom and Don and Margie and Sharon, and Gordon, and all your families, all friends and loved ones here this afternoon, what an amazing assembly at the reception at the funeral home on Tuesday, and members of our congregation of St. Andrew’s Church, old friends from Trinity Cathedral, Bethel Park neighbors, a great circle of clergy admirers and friends here, and of course the South Fayette High School Boosters and Band.  

Simply to pray that the words of our Lord for all of us would shine a bright and steady light this afternoon.  That the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would be presented faithfully and in a gracious way in the reading of scripture and in the beautiful music and anthems and hymns, in preaching, in the offering of the great prayers of the church.  Certainly the Good News about Jesus, as we have seen it communicated and lived-out in the life of Beatrice Ann MacGinitie Minkler. 

As we have all of us been caught short by Bea’s sudden death.  One week to be preparing for a transcontinental train adventure, and then to have everything turned upside down.  In those ancient words, “In the midst of life we are in death.”  Recalling the prayer of the Psalm, “Lord, let me know mine end, and the number of my days.”

It is very much for me an honor and a privilege to share this afternoon in this service for Beatrice Ann MacGinitie Minkler, who entered this life on July 28, 1939, a Californian and a Golden Bear.  Married to Bill at St. Mary’s Napa, in the summer of 1961—Bishop Gooden officiating, the Suffragan of Los Angeles, a pretty impressive display of Episcopalian family connections, the city and diocese where I grew up--wonderful to see the photo album and those wedding pictures on Tuesday—and for this rich 53 years of marriage.  Just really a tribute.  The mysteries of marriage.  Steadfast grace.  Courage, forgiveness, growth, joy.  The blessings of family.  

Entering Greater Life this past Saturday morning, May 3, 2014, at the age of 74.  To remember her life in all its richness.  Relationships, experiences.  The up’s and down’s of every day and every year.  Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Friend.  As we offer together the prayers of the church, not just as we say the words but as we gather the faith and life and witness of the whole Christian family and offer the deepest knowledge and desire of our hearts to almighty God.  As we hear the words of scripture, the psalms, the lessons, the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I was so touched by all the signs of her prayer life.  A handwritten prayer on a card on the bedside table.  Bookmarks, books, poems.  A rich inner landscape of faith.

“Whither I go, ye know, and the way ye know.” You know where I’m going, and you know how to get there.

In the years that I’ve known Bea there has been so much that has impressed me about her, so much about her and about her friendship that I have enjoyed.  Her warmth, her generosity of spirit, her smile.  My goodness, to see those photos of her as a young woman—how perfect that smile was all her life long!  The tenderness of the love that she had for you Bill.  You could see it in her eyes when she would look at you.  What she would have said back in 1961 at St. Mary’s Napa, as she held your hand, the good Bishop supervising: “I Beatrice take thee Bill, to my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.”  You and Bea have been in a quiet way but in such a powerful way a witness and an inspiration.

“Whither I go, ye know, and the way ye know.”  You know where I’m going, and you know how to get there.  Jesus is talking to his disciples about something more than what we might call our religious opinions and theories, our interpretations, our theological positions or understandings of various issues and concerns of the day.  What Jesus is talking about is a deeper kind of knowing than that.  The kind of knowing that we talk about when we say that a child knows his mother. It’s about relationship, connection.  About the word we use in the Church with real meaning and sincerity: about faith.  About being in relationship with God deeply and securely.  “You know where I am going, and how to get there, because you and I are going to the same place, returning to the same home, to that mansion that the Father has prepared for us.”  Christ in your heart.  To hear again, “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also . . . .  I am the way, the Truth, the Life.  No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

 So: “in the midst of life we are in death.”  Thinking how very fragile we are in this short life.  How precious every day is—the highlights and Red Letter Days, but also the ordinary days, making a home and a life together.  “Lord, let me know my end, and the number of my days.”  But of course we never can know.  Every day is a gift, a real gift—and of course a gift that comes with no guarantee.  Even when we say, “see you tomorrow,” we don’t really know.   

And so as we come together hear, to remember, to comfort one another, to give thanks, we might also hear an invitation.  Bea might be an inspiration for us in this way also.  This Christian woman of prayer and a deep and tender faith, with a deep and open and tender heart, that we would hear the invitation to love one another, to enjoy the good gift of the life, the family and friends God has given us.  And all that in the sure and certain hope of life in Christ Jesus, what we all have to be about this afternoon, with all the sadness that there is—what we all have to be about is to learn to live every day of this short and precious life in the love of God and of one another, serving God and one another, knowing that to be such a privilege.

Jesus said, 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 to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and bring you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.  We are invited each day and this day to say yes to this.  You know where I’m going, and you know how to get there too.  “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord.  He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

If you would please stand with me now and we will turn to the service leaflet, where we would say together the ancient and timeless Apostles’ Creed, the core affirmation of Christian identity and faith, and following the Creed then to remain standing and to turn in the hymnal as we would sing together the  hymn that Bill suggested, that came immediately to mind for him as we began to think about this service-- in the larger hymnal Hymn # 388, joining our voices here, and I know Bea will be singing with us in the choir of heaven.

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