In the Name of Love–A Homily for a Memorial Service

In the name of Love who joins us on our journey and bids us welcome.  Amen

Words.  Words of condolence.  Words of comfort.  Important words.  Words that fill the void our hearts can’t help but feel.  Words that stave off the emptiness of these days.  Times such as these are often awash with words.  Take a moment’s break from all those words.   Take a moment to be silent together in this place and to remember Mary Louise—wife, mother, grandmother, sister, colleague, neighbor, teacher, mentor, friend.  Take a minute to picture a time you shared with Mary—a time when Mary met you on the road and joined you on your journey.

Some of us walked with Mary for just a moment.  Just once.  Others of us have spent a year or maybe even a season of our lives with Mary.  Still others a lifetime.   Mary falling in with us, matching our stride, breaking things open, making things real.

Mary was so full of life.  So fit.  So strong.  The tough one of the bunch.  So fully engaged in family, friends, and the work she loved.  How can our hearts not be heavy?  How can we not be sad?  How can we not cry out, “This isn’t fair.”

Like those two followers of Jesus trudging down the road to Emmaus, we are numb with grief.  We had hoped for so much more.  We had hoped to spend more time with Mary.  We had hoped to grow old together, to watch children and grandchildren live into the fullness of their lives.  In the end, we hoped for a miracle.  “We had hoped”—we had hoped for so much more.

We remember the one whose death we mourn today.  We remember the one whose life we celebrate.  We remember Mary—her warm smile, her piercing questions, her quiet confidence in us and in herself.  The way she challenged us.  The way she supported us.  The way she taught us.  The way she loved us.

In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes, “Faith, hope and love abide.  But the greatest of these is love.”   Love that meets grief-stricken people on their path.  Love that seeks out the nature of their despair.   Love that walks with them in their sadness.  Love that lingers.  Love that stays to share a meal.  Love that breaks the bread and pours the wine.  Love that bids us welcome to the table.

Long ago in early Christian times a man named John wrote to his community, “Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God, love is God.”  We, you and I and all those Mary touched in her life and Mary herself are bound together in love.  A love that’s bigger than all of us.  A love that enfolds us gathered here today and all of love’s creation.  A love that never comes to an end.

That early Christian then said to the people he led, “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”  That’s the way that Mary Louise loved—in truth and action.

Mary always said to her grandkids as they were leaving her or she was leaving them, “I love you.”   She said it like this.  She says to us now, “I love you.”  Mary, we love you too.

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