Thank you. Thank you, each one of you here, for being part of this service to remember, honor, and give thanks for the life of Marian Kellogg. I begin with an expression of thanks with Marian’s own spirit in mind, for over these past years she called on several occasions for one reason only – to thank me for something, without any other request or suggestion or complaint or need. Her calls were pure gratitude; she was a fine teacher of extending thanks to others, and of keeping a lively curiosity about others.
Usually in Sunday
morning conversation, Marian showed more interest in others than in herself – something that we see in her wish to have a very brief obituary. And on the day recently in the hospital when she spoke about her funeral and reception, she declared that we could now serve potatoes – which the family absolutely avoided in the past because of Marian’s allergy to them. There she was, speaking only in a whisper, but still with that characteristic twinkle in her eye – letting her family know that those potatoes could finally surface.
Today we gather with a whole range of emotions: tears and, for some, disbelief at her passing so quickly; occasional tears mixed with laughter as we share stories; but also the consolation that she now is held in the perfect peace and wholeness of the resurrected Christ. Within the same hour that she talked about potatoes, Marian told me several times that she was at peace. I think it’s important that all of you who knew and loved her know that.
Today we bring tears to mourn the loss of an amazing woman whom we will miss deeply. It is perfectly all right to express the pain of this loss in any way you need to, knowing you will continue to hold each other up in the midst of grief. This is why we gather in community of friendship and love. When one of you feels unable to pray, another can take over, so that prayer soaks all of us like the blue waves of the Philippine waters where Marian was born and grew up.
We also gather to celebrate and honor Marian’s life, to share memories and stories and to know that she always will be remembered well.
Marian loved stories, both reading and telling them. It is no wonder that she enjoyed being part of the Usual Suspects group here at Trinity, where she established solid friendships as the group read mysteries together.
Many stories Marian shared were about her children and beloved grandchildren, whose photographs lined almost every inch of her bedroom walls. Her eyes were bright with joy as she spoke of them. She’d talk about raising a family, about needlepoint, or about a book she was reading – which perfectly matched stories from her family – like the many times Marian was so engrossed in a book that she’d suddenly realize she had ten minutes or less to start dinner before her husband John came home – so turned on the stove to its highest setting to hurry things along, and burned food to the most remarkable crisp.
Marian’s family has chosen scripture readings that speak to them about her life. Marian told me of her love for the church and for its liturgy on many a Sunday morning, and it comforted casino online her to talk about the liturgy and music for this, her service, with all of you gathered.
From Lamentations we heard, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
…Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.” (Lam 3: 22-23, 32,33, NRSV)
The love that Marian knew and showed to those dear to her was indeed the steadfast love that she first knew from God, in whom her faith was strong. On the morning that Marian joined in the communion of the saints around us, she too was made whole, with that mercy that is new every morning.
I pray that those who mourn for her now will know the great compassion and abundance of the steadfast love that we here on earth can only imagine, until we too join Marian and all the saints on the other side of the resurrection.
In John’s gospel, Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” And Jesus answers Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” (Jn 11: 21-23) So, too, will God’s beloved servant Marian rise again.
Marian’s family shared that in these past weeks, when their mother and grandmother was not well, she would dole out bits of information to some of them, different pieces to others, while no one got the entire story at once. Not knowing what exactly was wrong with her 89-year-old body, Marian sensed that she should make a trip to Texas to visit her 94-year-old sister – and did so – a reunion that I believe was pure grace.
This way of giving out pieces of information at a time, as Marian did, is instructive, and is not unlike the way those who bear her loss may experience healing. For some, receiving grace and peace during this time may be like opening our hearts to God, but feeling that peace in small doses at first – imperfect and incomplete, while later more showers of healing and compassion will be poured out.
Just as a variety of family members knew bits and pieces about Marian, but needed other pieces to become complete, so it is with one another’s help and with the grace of God that that your peace and healing will increase.
Open your hearts and your arms to God’s love in these coming days and weeks, whether you are embracing each others’ tears or your joyful remembrances of our beloved sister Marian, now entered into the realm of the saints in light.
And take with you on your journey these words from the Letter of Paul to the Romans:
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors though him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:35,37-39.