Homily on the Occasion of Reverdy “Rev” Munson’s Memorial Service

Sunday, March 30th at 2:00pm ||  Isaiah 25: 6-9; Psalm 121 || 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 || John 14: 1-6|| The Rev. Margot D. Critchfield

You know, I honestly can’t believe we’re here today to remember Rev. I still can’t believe he’s gone. And while I have no doubt whatsoever that he is now in the place he referred to in our conversations as his “heavenly home,” frankly, that’s not giving me a whole lot of consolation right now. Not when I look at Penny, who he adored…or his sons, Michael and Paul…or his beautiful grandchildren…Oh my gosh he was so proud of you, Emilie! And the way he beamed when he received communion with the littlest members of the Munson tribe at his side!

It’s just not fair…

And the choice words I have for the disease that took Rev so unfairly—the truly malevolent disease of cancer–well, those are words that can’t even be uttered in a holy place like this and shouldn’t be uttered anyway.

I so long for a world where there is no cancer or disease, a world where kids with the most awesome grandfather ever get to grow up with him in their lives. I long for a world where the shroud that is cast over all peoples has been removed, where God has wiped away the tears from all faces, and where death has been swallowed up for ever.

I long for the Kingdom of God. And I know you do, too.

Rev Munson was a man who not only believed in that Kingdom, he lived for it. He worked for it. He worked hard for it—even when sick—to see to it that if he had anything to say about it, when he left this world it would look a little bit more like the Kingdom of God than when he came into it. And boy did it. The lives Rev touched!

Rev touched so many lives in this church alone, making us better people for knowing him with his extraordinarily generous spirit. He served on the vestry, the stewardship committee, as an usher, and as an unofficial but much trusted advisor to this rector. Not surprisingly, given the man he was, Rev conceived, created and chaired the St. Stephen’s Generosity Team—a group of parishioners dedicated to inspiring others to give generously of themselves to the church—and not just financially (although Rev was never shy in talking about money!)

You see, in addition to all of his other service here, Rev gave untold hours of his time and lots of good old fashioned sweat equity, completely transforming the front of our church, almost singlehandedly landscaping the entire hill– pulling weeds, removing rocks, planting greens and flowers around the steps—and all in often stifling heat and humidity.

And of course, there was Rev’s greatest labor of love at St. Stephen’s: the hundreds of daffodils he planted in the shape of a huge cross on the side of the hill, but which sadly, he didn’t get to see bloom. Rev’s daffodil cross will be one of his most treasured legacies here, reminding us of him every Spring as we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection.

And what could be a more fitting memorial to a man so committed to the Good News of the Resurrection? Rev lived Resurrection life. He was such a faithful and faith-filled Christian. Some might have called him an optimist, but what Rev had wasn’t just optimism, it was faith. Rock solid faith. He believed in our Lord, he relied on our Lord, and he truly loved our Lord with all of his heart.

It’s a bit of a paradox, because in so many ways Rev was by nature utterly matter-of-fact and down to earth… so totally practical and pragmatic. Yet he was a man of deep faith to the very core, and that faith informed everything he thought, and said, and did. He could speak the truth courageously without mincing his words in one minute, and well up with tears and weep with gratitude to God in the next.

I remember in one of my last conversations with him, we were talking about his hope that he could gain enough strength back to get another round of chemo. “If it works, it works,” Rev said, “and if it doesn’t,” he said smiling, “that’s okay too.” Rev wasn’t being flip—he really meant it; it was okay. He was being utterly pragmatic and simultaneously faithful.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus told his disciples, “trust God and trust me.”

Rev trusted God. He trusted Jesus Christ. And if he’d heard what I’d said at the beginning of this homily about his death being unfair he’d say, “It is what it is. That’s just life. But if you’re longing for the Kingdom of God, you better get busy!” Then he’d smile that magnificent Rev smile and say, “And don’t worry about me. I’m doing great! So go on…”

And go on we will, together. With faith and with love, with truth telling and with tears, with hard work and with courage —until the shroud has been lifted, the tears have been dried, and death has been swallowed up forever.

Thanks be to God for giving us Rev, and thanks be to Rev, for giving us such an amazing witness to the life of faith. Well done, God’s good and faithful servant.  Amen.

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