Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thanksgiving for a life- Tom Strange

Tom Strange died last week at the age of 95.
He did not "pass away"
He died.
he, and his wife Mary, were one of the few couples
who regularly worshipped in both churches
of the parish
and he was one of the people
who was there week by week
who came to parish functions
staffed the parish office and did all sorts of other things in life and in the community.
He always had a good book
sometimes history, sometimes a novel,
sometimes science.
I shared with the family that I quickly learned to allow Tom half an hour
every week when I saw him in the office
to discuss what ever esoteric subject he was exploring.
That's why I chose the story about Joshua at the battle of Jericho
(Joshua 6) as one of our readings
We certainly had at least one conversation about this curious story
and he had read at least one archaeological account of this very bizarre event
about the walls falling down.
He enjoyed grappling with tricky questions

No subject too large, no subject too small!
Part of the sadness of Tom's last few years
has been the loss of this enthusiastic ability
to engage with the diversity of life.
When I saw him two weeks ago
his recognition of me was slight
but, I thought, there.
It was more than I had seen on the few occasions of the last 18 months.
Tom in earlier years, would engage with some of the difficult questions that this presents.
How can a life lived so fully, dwindle so much?
What sort of God would allow this to happen?
How can we who watched this, bear the pain?
How will I cope if this happens to me?
There are not simple answers, indeed there may not be answers at all.
In the Gospel reading we are told that life is not only about answers
It is about encountering Jesus.
This is not about avoiding pain;
indeed the crucified Jesus
demonstrates this dramatically.
It is finding in Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
We only ever do this partially
(fortunately…he is always finding us)
always drawing us
already gone to prepare a place for us.
We celebrate Communion, remembering Jesus is with us,
this Tom has done many times before,
it faith that God sustains and upholds.
And that in death as in life
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The answer to these difficult questions
is not in our clever thoughts
our having worked it out
but in relationship.
It is there for you and me today.
We pray in faith that Tom
knows the delight of the clear unobscured presence
and more that in this Christmas season
we might find the Way, the Truth, and the Life

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