Lead me by the waters – a funeral sermon

Today we gather to remember and give thanks for the life of a dear wife, mother, grandmother, friend and beloved member of the community of faith. The energy that she gave was palpable.

Indeed, it seems, Jenny was always on the move. Born in South London, England, she met Mike playing cards at a Bridge party during their university days. Jenny and Mike married in 1967, and finally immigrated to Canada in 1969.

Lead me by the waters, the Psalmist prays. Jenny was drawn to the water. And Canada has lots of water. 

Her first impression of Canada was Niagara Falls. She loved Niagara Falls. When Juliet and family later made their home in Niagara Falls, all the better! Jenny took advantage of family visits there to visit the Falls whenever possible. In the last part of her life, she loved going on cruises. Of course, in a boat, you are constantly surrounded by water. She loved the water.

Perhaps there is a part of us that can appreciate this love. Of course, today, waterfront living is highly valued. That wasn’t always the case, in the post-industrial age. Yet, for whatever reasons, we, as a people, have become drawn to the water. 

Maybe because, by ‘still waters’, motion is just waiting to happen. When water stays still for too long it becomes stagnant. There’s a difference between stagnant and still. The Psalmist prays to be led by still waters, not stagnant waters. When waters are still, watch out! Movement is about to happen.

The winds will whip up and cause ripples or waves piling the water up against one shoreline. The earth’s gravity will cause water molecules to flow downhill. The moon as well high- and low-pressure systems will cause a change in the height of the water surface. In the high Arctic and Antarctic regions when seawater freezes, the freshwater forms ice, leaving behind cold, saltier water which is denser than the surrounding water and sinks. This saltier water flows along the ocean floor towards the equator and creates the deep ocean currents.

Whatever the case may be with still waters, something will change soon. There is flow. The water is going somewhere whether or not we can easily perceive it at first. Lead me by the waters.

Whenever Jenny was in the company of others, you knew there was motion in the air. Movement. People who love to organize give that energy, for better or for worse! Jenny loved to organize and lead. Few may know she was the first chairperson of the Ottawa-Carleton Soccer League. Here at the church she was active on the worship and music committee, the council and women’s groups. Lead me by the waters. There is movement underfoot!

Water can change direction when it is going somewhere – when it encounters a rock, tree-fall, a windstorm, or sand banks shifting on the ocean floor or river bed. These days, people change jobs on an average of two to three years. That wasn’t always the case. In her generation, she was on the leading edge of this cultural shift. She was trained as a teacher. But then changed direction, to become an accountant. Jenny’s family was very proud of her accomplishing her CA degree for Carleton University.

Water is like the wind. Born, baptized and confirmed Anglican, then Lutheran, she brought Spirit into her life of Faith. Not something reserved Anglicans and Lutherans are particularly known for, she nevertheless sought out places to express and experience the Spirit of God. Jenny was active in the local Cursillo movement, a movement of prayer, spirit, heartfelt expressions of God’s love for her.

And, even as her mind began to fail in the last years, she still loved to attend Tuesday bible study at Good Shepherd Anglican-Lutheran Church in Barrhaven and regularly participate in the Communion services here at Faith.

Today is Jenny’s birthday. Birthdays are truly celebrations of life. On her birthday today we give thanks for the gift of her life. Funerals services in the Christian faith will announce the Easter hope of resurrection and new life in Christ even as we are now in the season of Lent, a season reminding us of our mortality and human frailty.

For Jenny, today is a day of resurrection. We can, and indeed we will, sing a hearty “Alleluia!”. Today we celebrate a life that continued to be reborn in the waters of her baptism. Through the ebbs and flows and changes of her life, God led her to this day when she finally and fully experiences the vast, boundless, ocean of God’s never-ending love.

Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Amen!

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