Sermon for the Memorial Service of Jane Richmond Crocker|| Saturday, October 10th, 2015 || Isaiah 25: 6-9; Psalm 139: Romans 8:14-19, 34-35, 37-39; John 11:21-27|| The Rev. Margot D. Critchfield
This past June, I had the privilege of gathering with a number of Jane’s family members at the old Hingham Cemetery, where we interred Jane’s remains with those of her parents and grandparents, her aunt and uncle. It was a hot day. The air was quiet and still and thick with the prayers of the bereaved that had been whispered there over the past three centuries. You could feel God’s presence, and you could feel the presence of so many of God’s saints buried there—those invisible to us now but so very much alive.
And it’s hard to explain exactly why, but there was something that felt so utterly right about that morning…about the realization that Jane was now one of those saints, invisible to us, but so very much alive…and that she had, after all, won. That in death, Jane was victorious!
Now I realize that to some of you that may sound like a rather strange thing to say about someone who has died: that she has won…that she was, in the end, victorious.
But because of her faith in Jesus Christ, Jane got to claim in death what was so elusive to her in life, despite her doggedly persistent—sometimes, perhaps, even misguided attempts—to acquire it: the freedom, the joy, and the perfect wholeness that comes with knowing one is truly loved.
“…Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” St. Paul asks. “Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Jane was in a very real sense a conqueror. In so many ways, her life was one of extremes—a life of love and abandonment, denial and truth telling, pride and shame, hurt and healing… a life of such tragedy and tenacity, grief and grace.
And through it all, Jane would not be defeated. She always picked herself up, dusted herself off, put on a smile, and made the best of it. Jane’s was not an easy life — and she lived most of it in a time and a place in which the pressure to keep up outward appearances was enormous, and the kind of emotional openness and sharing that has become so much a part of our world today was, in fact, taboo.
It must have been horribly lonely for her sometimes.
But nothing could separate Jane from the love of Christ. She was a woman of incredible fortitude. Her faith in Christ gave her the strength and the courage and the fierce determination she needed to keep going—no matter what–where others would have given up and given in.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Jane believed, as St. Paul says, “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us….” Jane looked forward to that glory—she really did—and now it has been revealed to her. Now she is at home with the One who created her, the One who our psalm tells us has searched her out and known her… who has traced her journeys and her resting places…who is acquainted with all her ways…and who loves her with an indescribably joy-filled love that is far beyond any of our imaginings!
So yes, I’d say Jane finally won. We don’t need to worry about her—she may be among the saints invisible to us now, but she is very, very much alive!
So to you, Susie, Davenport, and Com—and to any of you who find yourselves thinking abut Jane and missing her, let me offer this invitation: Go to Jane’s gravesite at the old Hingham Cemetery some hot June day when the air is quiet and still, thick with the prayers of the bereaved whispered there over the centuries. Feel God’s presence. Feel Jane’s presence. Feel the presence of so many others who we see no longer, surrounding you and loving you. Then give thanks to God as you remember that in the end Jane was victorious—and rejoice! Amen.