Friday, January 10, 2020

Sad and Thankful

Tomorrow I preach at the funeral of Mary Ann Logue--a friend for over 30 years and a priest who worked with me at St. John's in Waterbury from 1990-1994. I'll let the sermon tell you our story.

Mary Ann Logue—January 11, 2020
          Mary Ann and I clicked at first meeting. It may have been that we were both only children. I can spot another ‘only child’ from across the room. We know much about each other—how to be alone, how to entertain ourselves, how to keep quiet when keeping quiet is good.
          She came from a remarkable Congregational background and lay ministry to join St. Paul’s while I was Rector here, many years ago. I presented her for confirmation and for ordination as a deacon and a priest.
          We spent many hours together discussing theology and our lives.
          Bern and I went to several of Frank and Mary Ann’s fabled Christmas parties and met many people who came to mean a lot to me at them.
          At the lowest point in my life, when I resigned from St. Paul’s and was separated from my wife, with whom I’ll celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary in September, it was Mary Ann who sought me out and found me a job through a friend of hers and supported me greatly as I put my life back together and rejoined my family and eventually found my priesthood all new.
          She also served with me as the assistant Rector at St. John’s in Waterbury for several years.
          Every Monday morning, she would come into my office with a list and tell me what I needed to do that week. I would take the list and carry out her orders. I am not the most focused and purpose driven person you’ll ever meet—so her gift to me was to bring a list to focus on and realize my purpose.
          We were dear friends. After Frank died and she was without him, I would visit her in Hamden, just to talk and keep in touch and share our lives.
          She always shared about Frank and her children and grandchildren. They were all the love of her life. As active and involved as she was in the community and the church, her family was the love of her life. God bless her for that.
          I won’t go on and on about Mary Ann and her accomplishments—you all know about them.
          All I want to say is that I loved her and will miss her greatly. She shared compassion and wisdom and great good spirit with me over the years.
          I thank God for her contributions to my life. And I’m sure all of you thank God for the gifts she gave to you. I’m sure of that.
          I chose today’s gospel—it’s what I want for my funeral—and it’s all about love. Love IS ALL WE NEED. Love of our families, love of our communities, love of our church family, love of our country, love of our environment, love of our world. Love of one another. That’s all we need. And Mary Ann had that love. Believe you me—and I know you do—she had that love.
          Here’s something I shouldn’t tell you. And I certainly shouldn’t say it in front of my bishop…
          But, here it is: I’m not sure what happens when we die.
          I would pray it was like one of Mary Ann and Frank’s Christmas parties. But I don’t know.
          I’m not sold on streets of gold and angel wings. I just don’t know.
          What I do know is love is what matters and we do that on this earth, while we’re alive. Like Mary Ann did, every day of her life.
          But, as a priest, I wear white at a funeral—not the color of mourning, but the color of Easter, the color of Hope, the color of new life.
          And I rely on the words of St. Francis of Assisi, everyone’s first or second favorite saint, once wrote: “Death is not a door that closes; it is a door that opens and we walk in, all new, into the presence of the One who loves us best of all.”
          For those of us still on our earthy pilgrimage, Death is a closed door.
          We are not with those who we love but see no more.
          But I believe and believe fair well, that for Mary Ann, Death was a door that opened and she entered in all new—“all new”—into the presence of the One who loves her best of all.
          That I believe—whatever it means—that I believe.
          “All new…all new…all new….”

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.