Summary: This is a funeral homily for a homeless man who had lived at a local shelter for 30 years before his death.
Homeless No More - A Funeral Homily
Isaiah 58:6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Luke 9:57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
Two passage of Scripture. One from what we call the Old Testament and one from the New. I want to share just briefly today as we mourn the loss of Larry, how these passages may connect the dots for us, may offer guidance or solace or perhaps a small challenge to us today.
In the first passage, we hear through the voice of Isaiah God’s compassion for people of humble circumstance. We hear God’s concern for the oppressed and his desire for freedom for all those who are yoked to something that binds them.
We hear God redefining spirituality in a sense. It is less to do exclusively with what is going on deep in my soul, than it is about how I chose to interact with others.
Do I pray and contemplate the mysteries of the universe and find contentment in that, while my brother or sister are outside my door is starving? And if I do, do I feel the disconnect?
Do I try to develop inner disciplines, do I grow in my own mindfulness while I find it somehow permissible that a poor wanderer goes without shelter, that a hungry child stays hungry, that a naked person stay naked?
Or do I let all of that...somehow...in. In to my life. In to my conscience. In to my pursuit of the divine within or the divine without?
Larry found a place. This is very important. Larry found a place where he also found welcome. Larry lived at Seaton House longer, I understand, than anyone else. Larry’s life circumstances and Larry’s life choices led him to this place which was home for him for most of his life.
And at Seaton House, Larry found a refuge for the poor wanderer. He found people who cared. He found a place that would provide shelter and food and clothing. He found a place where he met friends, where he could live out the journey of his life.
He found a place where he wasn’t turned away, wasn’t cruelly judged. I shudder to think what Larry’s life would have been like without a place like Seaton House to call home.
In the second passage I read from the NT, Jesus is responding to someone who pledges to follow him no matter where he goes. And Jesus tells him that he himself has no place to lay his head.
We don’t often hear of a Jesus who had no place to lay his head. Of a homeless Saviour. But over and over again in the NT we see Jesus, sent from God, the Incarnate Son, embracing humble circumstance.
Choosing to identify with the poor wanderer. Born in a barn. Raised in a poor family. Living a life not of pomp and circumstance but of connecting with common folk. We see Jesus feeding the hungry by the droves, speaking out against oppression and injustice, healing the hurting and loving the leper. All actions that suggest something perhaps rather shocking about God.
God really knows our situations. He knows from experience the plight of the homeless. He knows from living deeply among the broken the yoke of those who are in bondage...Addiction is not alien to Him.
Trauma and indignity and humiliation are not strangers to Him. He has, somehow, chosen to embrace the pain. The pain of humanity.
And He embraced Larry in all of his life and all of his pain. He knew it inside out. All of Larry’s life, in fact, was known by God. The good parts and the bad parts. From the moment of his birth, through each circumstance of his life, right up until on June ___ he emerged in God’s presence on the other side of the valley of suffering and death.
The point of all this is that Larry was in a sense, while he was with us, a homeless man. But Larry is homeless no more. He is not a poor wanderer anymore. He does not struggle with addictions...anymore. Larry is free, and he is free because he is loved and welcomed by the very same Jesus who was once a homeless Saviour. Let’s pray.