A FUNERAL SERVICE, INCLUDING HOMILY

I don’t preside over many funerals.   Recently I was asked to preside at a funeral service that was hard for all concerned.   Here is the final version of the service, including homily.

Funeral Service for Ryan Hind                                                                                      March 17, 1974 to February 28, 2015

Introit/Opening Prayer

God our refuge and strength,

close at hand in our distress;

meet us in our sorrow and lift our eyes

to the peace and light of your constant care.

Help us so to hear your word of grace

that our fear will be dispelled by your love,

our loneliness eased by your presence

and our hope renewed by your promises

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 Greeting/Welcoming

 On behalf of the family of Ryan Hind, thank you for coming this morning to share in honouring his life and memory.   We gather together to celebrate a life and morn a passing of someone dear to many in this room.   Those of us who are not close friends or family are also here to help share the burden of grief and to let those who cared about Ryan know that they are not alone at this time.

 Opening Prayer:

 God of hope,

we come to you in shock and grief

and confusion of heart.

Help us to find peace in the knowledge

of your loving mercy to all your children,

and give us light to guide us out of our darkness

into the assurance of your love,

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Readings & Reflections

First Reading:

Not, how did he die, but how did he live?

Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?

These are the units to measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth.

Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?

But had he befriended those really in need?

Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer,

To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?

Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,

But how many were sorry when he passed away?

(Anonymous)

 Second Reading:

Remember me when I am gone away,

gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

you tell me of the future that you planned;

Only remember me; you understand

it will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet, if you should forget me for a while

and afterwards, remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

a vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

better by far you should forget and smile

than that you should remember and be sad.

(Christina Rossetti)

 Community Memories:  

Friends and Family of Ryan are welcome to share memories

HOMILY

Third Reading:

Because of the LORD’s great love

we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those

whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke

while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence,

for the LORD has laid it on him.

Let him bury his face in the dust—

there may yet be hope.

Let him offer his cheek

to one who would strike him,

and let him be filled with disgrace.

For men are not cast off

by the Lord forever.

Though he brings grief,

he will show compassion,

so great is his unfailing love.

For he does not willingly bring affliction

or grief to the children of men.

(Lamentations 3:22-33 New International Version)

My role here today is that of being a representative of the community.   Most of you here are friends and family and acquaintances of Ryan.   I’m not.   But he is a part of my world.   We knew people in common. We lived in Toronto and likely complained about the cold and made jokes about the Leafs or former mayor Rob Ford.   He died tragically.   But he was and isn’t alone.   People care about Ryan; strangers offer prayers for him and his family; in many ways we do what the Jewish community calls sitting Shiva—sharing in the grief and helping to carry the burden of lose in whatever way we can.

And part of our responsibility as members of a caring community is to remind family and friends that Ryan’s life wasn’t defined by what happened at the MacDonald’s.   He was a sports fan, especially of the Colts. He wore a NFL jersey at the visitation. I have heard many people tell of his generosity, his kindness, his exuberance for life.   Everyone of those who knew Ryan, who cared for him, who now grieve for him and feel a sense of lose, have memories of Ryan that should be nurtured and reflected on—you don’t make and keep friends without being a part of good times; family members will remember the cute toddler or the dreamer; you have something good in your minds about Ryan.   These memories should be cherished because only you have them.   The rest of us only have partial glimpses of who Ryan was. You have the depth of knowledge from which wisdom comes. We share your grief but we do not have what you as family and friends have—memories of Ryan not in crisis or the news but in good times.   That is the best way to honour Ryan while respecting your own grief and loss.

I have had the opportunity to visit Jerusalem twice.   I have watched Muslim and Jewish boys play soccer together; I have heard the Muslim call to prayer blended with Christian church bells and the sounds of the shofar (ram’s horn) being blown at sunset.   I heard a busker playing It’s a Wonderful World as children from different races and backgrounds played in a public square.   Yet, walking around the walls of the old city I could see barbed wire and bullet holes—a harsh and vivid reminder that even in one of the most sacred spots in the world, a place where peace is waiting for a chance to blossom, there is violence and hatred and bloodshed.   HaMakom (literally, the place)/Allah/God wants peace while humanity, in our frailty, has problems living this out.

If violence can occur in the sacred places of the world, it isn’t a surprise when violence erupts in our secular temples.   It is always a tragedy with far more victims than the world sees. Ryan would have died at some point—that is part of the human condition.   But he did not need to die when and how he did.   Ryan death would have always been mourned, even if he died in a hospice aged 107 surrounded by loved ones   But his loss is more keenly felt because he died in a violent way in a situation that makes little sense to us on the outside.

Those who have reached my age have watched loved ones die. We know that time transforms but never eliminates grief. We miss those who were one a part of our lives.   At times a memory will cause a smile; at times tears.   While few among us will have the experience of morning the tragic death of someone close to us, many have a lived experience that helps us have empathy with some of what Ryan’s friends and family are living through today.

Our responsibility, as people from the world beyond Ryan’s family and friends, is to remind those close to Ryan to not let his life end where and how it was frozen in time.   Ryan will continue as long as you hold onto the memories of the Ryan who laughed and cried and drank and argued and played games with you—the real Ryan.   The rest of us are here to help carry the burden of grief so that family and friends can honour Ryan and begin their healing journey.

A couple of thousand years ago a wandering teacher in the middle east had a dinner with friends, a meal shortly before he was killed. He didn’t ask a lot from his friends—he was the one more likely to be asked for things—but did ask them to agree that whenever they got together and shared a glass of wine to remember him.   Friends and family of Ryan, whenever you get together in the future whether at a kitchen table or a Timmy’s or a bar, raise a glass in his memory.   You have decades of memories to share and keep alive.

The Lord’s Prayer

 Celebrant: As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,

All: Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

 Final Commendation

Invitation to Prayer:

Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother Ryan Hind.   May our farewell express our affection for him; may it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope. One day we shall joyfully greet him again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.

Silence

Signs of Farewell

Celebrant: Saints of God, come to his aid!

Hasten to meet him, angels of the Lord!

All: Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Celebrant: May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;

may angels lead you to the bosom of Abraham.

All: Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Celebrant: Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,

and let perpetual light shine upon him.

All:      Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Prayer of Commendation:

 Into your hands, Father of mercies,

we commend our brother Ryan Christopher Hind

in the sure and certain hope

that, together with all who have died in Christ,

he will rise with him on the last day.

Merciful Lord,

turn toward us and listen to our prayers:

open the gates of paradise to your servant

and help us who remain

to comfort one another with assurances of faith,

until we all meet in Christ

and are with you and with our brother for eve:

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 The Committal:

 In peace let us release our brother to his place of rest.

May the angels lead you into paradise; May the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.?

May choirs of angels welcome you and lead you to the bosom of Abraham; and where Lazarus is poor no longer May you find eternal rest.?

Whoever believes in me, even though that person die, shall live. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

May the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever:

All: Amen.

Celebrant: Go forth in the name of Christ.

All: Thanks be to God.

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