I first met Robin Murray in April of last year. I was here for my interview visit and she and I and Kaycee and Kathy Rogers went to breakfast at Amazing Foods together. I remember that breakfast fondly for many reasons, pretty much all of which had to do with the company I found myself in and the conversation we had (and of course, partially because of the delicious food). What Robin told me that day was that she was a golf widow, which was also my first experience with that term. Kim, Bear to his friends, was seriously fond of golf. From what I have heard, he golfed three days a week, eleven months of the year. I have also heard that he only talked about two subjects, golf and Robin, for he had found himself a wonderful wife and friend in Robin.
Kim was also a member here at St. John's and a participant in our weekly Wednesday night bible study group, a missionary representative on our Honduras mission trip and loved delivering Christmas presents with the Daughters of the King to Sugar Valley Lodge. He had a hearty laugh and he was a straight shooter, you always knew where you stood with him. He had good relationships with many in our community and I know that there are many here today who will miss him.
Thankfully, Kim had a relationship with God and he knew the Christian promise and hope. He knew that he had been baptized and marked as Christ's own forever. As Jesus says in the gospel passage today, the only requirement for eternal life is belief. While belief is not always easy to maintain all the time, we can be comforted by the promise Jesus gives us. Anyone who hears what Jesus says and believes in him will have eternal life.
Even better, Jesus promises that the kingdom of God is already at work. The hour is coming and is now here, says Jesus, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God - Kim is listening directly to Jesus now. Death does not have the last word when one believes in Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you doubt Jesus. Perhaps you doubt that any of us will have eternal life. Perhaps you doubt that Jesus has conquered death. The reading from Lamentations which we heard earlier speaks to the steadfastness of God. The Bible shows over and over again how steadfast God is in keeping his promises. Over and over again, humanity makes mistakes and messes up, yet God is always there and always keeping the promises. God's love for us never ends.One of the many names for God used throughout the Bible is Comforter. Not the big fluffy kind which we all put on our beds in the middle of winter, but the kind who is present every time you need him. God is the Comforter who is present in the midst of grief and trouble. Every time something bad happens, God is right there with us, working in ways we cannot see. Holding us with great love.
In the midst of the sorrow of losing a wonderful man, faithful husband, and marvelous photographer and golfer, God is present with us, keeping his promise. All who believe in him will have eternal life. God is faithful, even in the midst of death. Jesus walked through death and death could not conquer. So, while we know death separates us in this world, death does not have the last say.
As always, Robin, rely on God. But also rely on the community of faithful believers gathered about you this day. It is through each other that God works, through conversation, connection, and community. God will be with you, as well as the members of St. John's, to help you in the midst of your grief. Trust in God's promises and be comforted. As it says in the Pascha Nostrum, the Christ our Passover, that great Easter chorus, "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. Alleluia!" Amen.