Homily on the Occasion of Robert “Rob” Shannon’s Memorial Service

Friday, March28th, 2014 at 11:00am ||  1 Corinthians 13: 1-13|| The Rev. Margot D. Critchfield

I am not here to talk to you about Rob Shannon. Folks far more qualified than I am will do that in just a few minutes. I didn’t have the benefit of knowing Rob—and from what I’ve heard he was a pretty extraordinary man. But because I didn’t know him, I’m going to leave that to the experts—Rob’s wife, Susan, and his dear friend, Steve Weinstein. Susan and Steve will share their remembrances of Rob to evoke the spirit of the man whose life we celebrate and whose death we mourn.

But before they do, I want to take just a minute or two to try to evoke for you something else. I want to evoke for you the spirit of the God in whom Rob is now mysteriously made whole. The God in whom he has a new life beyond our wildest imaginings, the God in whom he continues to grow–in love and in service.

And the spirit of that God is Love. Divine Love. The kind of love that our human love—no matter how potent it is—can only hint at. The kind of love that makes that human love possible.

The apostle Paul, from whose letter to the church at Corinth Julia just read, writes eloquently of this divine love that never ends. Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Why then,” we often ask at times like these, “must people suffer?” Why, indeed, if God is so compassionate, did Rob have to die so soon? I wish I could give answer those questions. I’ve asked similar ones myself on many an occasion. But these are mysteries for which I have no explanation.

And this is where faith comes in. You see, what I do have, and what I’d like to offer before you, is my faith that God is, indeed, loving beyond our wildest imagingings and that God is indeed good.

Because God does not cause death or suffering. We live in a very broken world in which God’s will is not always done, and when we suffer, God suffers –and when we grieve, God grieves. What’s more, given time, God can and will transform our grief with grace—in ways that can be life-giving to both us and to others.

But right now, you have lost someone you love dearly.   Someone who is alive now in the fullness of being we are promised by God’s never-failing love. So listen to the remembrances we’re about to hear about Rob. Listen carefully, and you will hear grief being transformed already by love. You will hear life in the midst of death. You will hear the very spirit of God.

See if you recognize it, even if only dimly, as in a mirror.Because now we know only in part; but one day we will know fully, even as we have been fully known.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. May you treasure it and share it generously as you walk the bittersweet way of grief and new life. Amen.

 

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