Memorial Celebration for the life of Margaret “Peggy” Collander
October 16, 2017
Gracious God, you have not made us for darkness and death, but for life in you. Speak to us now, your words of eternal life and set the glory of your love before us. Amen.
Saturday morning, in the cool drizzle and cloud-cover, I planted daffodil bulbs. I bought them more than a few weeks ago, but life kept getting in the way of me actually planting them. Not like Saturday was a particularly perfect for me to spend time digging in the dirt - - God knows, I had plenty to do. Hospital visits, and sermon preparation; and of course, plenty of family responsibilities too. I keep hoping, but that pile of laundry never seems to wash and fold itself. Still, I put everything on hold. I needed to plant those bulbs. Because in the middle of this fall season, with winter approaching – with Peggy’s death on my heart and mind – what I really needed was to think about the glory of springtime, the beauty of daffodils.
We’re drawn to beauty aren’t we? I know Jim would say ‘yes.’ He and Peggy were drawn to the beauty in each other as far back as high school, and for more than 50 years, their beauty was on display. On display for them as a couple, for their children and grandchildren. For their community and neighbors. For their many friends.
But of course, beauty, in its fullness, includes plenty of messy parts. The mud on my clothes, caked on my hands and under my nails reminded me of this. And of course, Peggy’s illness over the past few years, was messy too. It included plenty of pain. Extended periods of uncertainty. And years of suffering.
But the good news is that God isn’t afraid of the mess. Jesus openly grieved over the brokenness of the world. He wasn’t ok with illness. He wept over death. And in today’s reading from John, Jesus was trying to prepare his closest friends for that ultimate messy part of life, that is, for his own death. There was nothing messier than that. Jesus, tried as a criminal, suffered on the cross, and buried in a tomb. But God redeemed the mess. And beauty, unlike any beauty before it, emerged through Jesus’ resurrection.
This sometimes fragile, often messy, and completely beautiful life is given to us as a gift from God. And yes, sometimes it is so fragile, messy, and beautiful that it rips our hearts open with sorrow. But the God who embraced our fragile and messy lives through Jesus, who raised him from the dead, raises Peggy as well. That is precisely why we’re here this morning. To remind, reassure, and remember this beauty and celebrate the truth that Peggy is now draped in that same beauty as Jesus Christ. Amen.