Monday, September 6, 2010

Sermon for Tom Warren's Burial Service

Life is Short

There is a blessing that we use sometimes
at the end of our Sunday worship service.
It goes like this:

Life is short.
And we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts
of those who travel with us.
So be quick to love
and make haste to be kind…

Over and over again
Jesus tells us there are really only two things we need to know,
Two things we need to do:
Love God. Love one another.

I only knew Tom Warren for three years.
I realize that is a much, much, much shorter time
than so many of you knew Tom.

But it did not take long
to discover that Tom Warren understood what Jesus was saying:
Love God. Love one another.
Everything I saw in Tom—
in both Tom and his beloved wife Ann —
spoke volumes that he—they—
understood and understand
what love is all about.

You see love is not frivolous.
Love is not a nice-to-do if you have the time.
Love is the heart of the gospel.
Love is the mandate—love is the very thing Jesus commands us to do.
Love needs to be at the heart of our lives---every day, every moment.

Imagine how the world might change
if every word spoken, if every action taken was infused with love.

What better place to start than in our own lives.

Be quick to love.
Make haste to be kind.

I believe that Tom Warren was indeed a man who was quick to love.
And I have absolutely no doubt
that he was a man who made haste to be kind.

Even in the midst of Alzheimer’s Disease,
a disease so cruel that it can rob you of your whole being,
Tom was never robbed of his love or his kindness.

I can still see him chuckling when Ann told a story about their lives.
I can still see him in the bright red blazer coming into church.
I can still see him struggling his hardest to move from wheelchair to car seat
with Ann as his loving coach.
Often when we are reduced
to some of the most difficult situations of our lives
the heart of whom we really are shines forth.

Now I am sure that his family, especially Ann, could tell us of a few times
when Tom needed to up his dose of love and kindness—
but don’t we all have those times?
Don’t we all depend on those who love us to remind us?

Tom was a true man of God—
and a true man of God is one who knows how to love
and does not hesitate to be kind.

We heard in our gospel reading,
Jesus saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
To Tom’s family I say,
hold on to those words.
I do not believe that Jesus was saying do not grieve, do not cry,
do not acknowledge the depth of your pain.
Jesus knew about losing people he loved.
Jesus knew about pain and suffering.
Do not let your hearts be troubled—
Because I am right here beside you.
Every step of the way.

Tom has joined those others
that we still love but see no longer.
I will miss him. You will miss him even more.
You will probably miss him every single day for the rest of your lives.

When Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,”
He is letting us know that Tom is just fine.
Tom is great, in fact.
Tom has found his way to truth and life that has no end.

But here we are.
We are still here.
How do we survive such loss?
Love God. Love one another.
Look to God and to one another for comfort and care.
Live each day to its fullest because indeed,
no matter the length of our life,
Life IS short.

Make haste to be kind.
To one another.
To family and friends but also to strangers.
Love and kindness open the door
so that we might see the face of Jesus in every one we meet.
And they in turn see likewise.

Love does conquer all things.
Faith, hope and love—
the greatest of these—indeed—the greatest of these is love.
Tom Warren’s life was a testament to that kind of great love.

Life is short.
And we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
So be quick to love
And make haste to be kind…

And the blessing of God who loves you
be upon you this day
and ever more.

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