Summary: Christ’s love for us is so obvious through his actions that he didn’t need to say "I love you" to us. Yet the good news is he showed his love and he also said "I love you"!
Jane Smith Memorial Service
One of the great privileges of being a pastor is I am invited into people’s lives. During times of great human emotion – birth, death, marriage, baptism, graduation, and so on – I am offered a place of honorary membership in their family.
And it has been a great joy to have been allowed to be an honorary member of the Smith family these past months.
To watch the way they care for each other, pray for each other, look out for each other, support each other, *love* each other.
To watch with surprise at first and then amazement as Jane fought back from a surgery that was supposed to be unfightable. Because she was fighting for just a little more time to spend with the people she loved. And it was a fight that finally ended after eight months last Saturday.
It was a joy for me to be at the Smith house on Sunday evening and listen to the family telling the stories of Jane.
Some people think stories are just for children – something we grow out of in favor of the hard facts and figures of the adult world.
Ahh, but they haven’t heard *real* stories.
They haven’t heard intensely *human* stories.
They haven’t heard the wondrous *divine* story.
And they didn’t hear the stories of Jane Smith shared around the kitchen table on Sunday evening. For as we sat around that table, the stories of Jane’s life *filled* the room. And once the stories started, there was no stopping them. They spanned the spectrum of Jane’s life – from incidents only days ago to events that took place decades ago. From quite ordinary stories about Jane – washing dishes together, baking a pie, holding hands – to the most extraordinary stories. In those stories was joy as well as sorrow, loss as well as thanksgiving, hope as well as regret. In those stories, laughter was shared, and tears were shared as well.
And I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could tell those stories about Jane today...
But then I realized... Jack tells these stories better... The Smith family tells these stories better than I ever could! If I tried to repeat them, I wouldn’t tell them half as good.
So... if you want to hear the stories of Jane Smith, ask them! If you want to hear the stories of Jane Smith, just ask them! After the service, go downstairs to the social hall, grab a plate of food at the memorial luncheon, find someone, and ask them to tell you the stories of Jane Smith. And if you know the stories of Jane Smith, tell them! Share them, celebrate them, laugh about them, cry about them, but tell them.
And if you don’t get a chance today, then in a week or a month or a year, stop by at Jack’s and ask him to tell the stories. You won’t be disappointed.
So, I’ll let others really tell you the stories, and I’ll make this one observation of what I’ve seen.
Over the last year, I’ve witnessed their marriage and their family at church, at home, at hospitals, at times of celebration and despair. And seeing what I’ve seen, it seems that Jack and Jane have a marriage where their love for each other is so evident that they didn’t need to say the words, “I love you,” but they went ahead and said them anyway.
[Looking directly at Jack in the first pew] You have a marriage where your love for each other is so evident that you don’t need to say the words, “I love you,” but you said them anyway.
Just watching the way they spoke with each other, the way they looked at each other, the way they respected each other, the way they *were* in the same room together, the way they cared for each other, even the way they gently corrected each other when they were mistaken – their love was so evident they didn’t need to say the words, “I love you,” but they said them anyway.
Looking at the family, I saw the same thing. The way the 23rd Psalm was repeated to strengthen the family, the celebration of Holy Communion as a family, the prayers shared together, the sacrifices were made, the commitments they made, the decision to invite hospice care in – all to allow Jane to live at home and enjoy her family in comfortable surroundings. And all evidence of great love.
And the way the family cared for each other! If everyone had broken down at the exact same time, I don’t know what would’ve happened. But I think the family must’ve made an agreement not to – “I’ll care for you when it’s rough, but in five minutes, you’ll need to turn around and care for me.”