Charlie Barton • July 28, 2012 • Saint James, Monkton
How are we to make sense of Kelly's death? The short answer is "that's not going to happen." This was not a sensible occurrence. We are not gathered here to find an answer. We are here to be in the presence of a loving God, to remember all that was good and lovely in Kelly's life and to support each other as we grieve.
Kelly's death is not the conclusion of some divine cause and effect - a loving God would not do that. An accident is just an accident. God made physical laws like gravity and momentum and graced people like Kelly with free will, exuberance, and the energy that caused her to use expansive gestures as she thought out loud. But God did not push Kelly off a rooftop. Kelly simply fell. It was a senseless accident.
We want things to make sense, so we try to create reasons to explain senseless events. But that very effort can cut us off from the grace and the mercy we will need to find our footing for a road we did not expect to have to travel.
God is in all of this, but not as the cause. God is in this as companion, weeping with you. God knows what it is like to lose a child, for even one who has grown into an adult remains a child in a parent's memory.
The loss of a child is like a crucifixion of the heart.
And that painful fact leads us to the deeper reality of God's love. We know that Christ died on a cross - a painful, seemingly senseless death. We also know He rose from the dead. In John's Gospel we see Christ's return, in a resurrected body. Christ has come back to his often faithless, filled with fear, and imperfect disciples who betrayed him a hundred different ways. But Christ came not in judgment but in love…for love is that which survives even death. Love is the power that made us and the power that will raise us up. God is love. And it is God who has prepared a place for Kelly.
What the disciples thought was the end was not. Christ was alive. It makes no sense, but it makes all the difference. Christ lives…now...in some way beyond our comprehension. Christ died and rose again out of love for all of us. And because Christ rose, so will we.
Christ died to save us from sin - our own missing of the mark… and he died to free us from death. Yes, we are - all of us - weak from time to time. Yes, we turn away in our blindness and our ignorance. All of us do this. And God loves us anyway.
In our baptism we are grafted to the vine that is Christ. The vine is the source of our life whether we acknowledge this or not. We say that baptism is indissoluble. That means that nothing can dissolve the bond that God has made. How can that be?
On a rational level this makes absolutely no sense. But our minds are but one room in the house that God has made for us. In our Father's house are many rooms. We may not be able to know the floor plan before we find ourselves being welcomed in but we are promised that there is room for us. But how do we get to God's house?
When Jesus told the disciples that they knew the way to the Father's house, He was speaking about Himself. They knew Him…they knew the Way. Relationship with Jesus is the Way home for us all.
But it is Jesus who initiates this relationship. Remember that He had chosen the disciples, they had not chosen him and so it is with us.
Thomas had wanted a map. He wanted specific directions - as though it was all up to him to make his way home. Jesus makes two things clear: he will come for us and he has made a place for us.
Elsewhere in the gospel of John, Jesus says, "I have lost nothing that the Father has given me." Kelly was given to Christ when the water poured over her forehead and the minister said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Christ will neither lose her, nor let her go. A senseless accident does not erase that truth. Our lack of understanding doesn't dissolve the bond created by God's love.
Bodies pass away. Explanations fade. Even the words of faith can only take us so far. In the end it is love that will carry us. And love will carry us all the way home. AMEN.