On December 17, 2016, the community, friends, and family assembled to grieve, to celebrate, to share and reflect upon the baptismal journey of, Dan Link. Our deep gratitude to all who helped to send Dan out like a saint! What a true and beautiful expression of Christian Community!
Below is the sermon delivered by The Reverend Christian Baron, Co-Rector of St. Philip’s.
“Your brother will rise again.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… Amen
Good afternoon. I’d like to welcome you all to St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
On behalf of the family, welcome. Your presence is a blessing and I’m confident Dan would be pleased that you all are here. Jodi & I were honored that Mary invited this parish, to be a part of this day to honor Dan’s life and baptismal journey.
Jodi & I are honored that Mary invited this parish to be a part of this day to honor Dan’s life and baptismal journey.
Jodi and I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Dan like most of you did. We only met him in his final days. His final hours on this earthly pilgrimage.
As we have met with Mary, heard from his children, grandchildren, and countless friends who knew him…we do, however, feel lucky to have briefly met him. In these walls through the time and dedication he offered, building this parish, through the stories told us of his infectious smile, unceasing kindness, and generous abundant love for the humans in his life.
And that is part of the reason today is so difficult.
Today is a day filled with many mixed feelings.
A day that is painful. A day of certain relief in the knowledge that this disease no longer occupies his mind.
And a day to send our friend into his eternal resting place like a saint…
but it is, as I said earlier… a “good afternoon.”
Even though the weather is pretty terrible, and even though some of you have a long drive after this service in the dark and snow… it is a “good afternoon.”
It is a “good afternoon” because today we celebrate that Dan is now, more fully in the presence of the Divine, in the presence of our Lord.
I love it that for funerals, the Church sets up in white.
We suspend the current liturgical season… and the church is transformed into an Easter Celebration.
For today, we removed the Advent wreath… and added the Paschal candle. We removed the sarum blue altar frontal… and replaced it with the bright white of Easter.
The clergy has replaced our blue advent stoles, chasuble and dalmatic with our Easter Vestments.
I think that is pretty beautiful.
Advent is a time of waiting… for the light of Christ.
As we get closer to Christmas, we light more candles to symbolize the coming light.
But the Easter Celebration is bright because of the Resurrection and because the light has been fully revealed.
And Dan has moved through the darkness and into Light. So we celebrate this new reality on this “good afternoon.”
And, yet, we grieve. We grieve that our father, Our husband… our friend… is no longer physically present with us… in this place.
We grieve for our loss.
We grieve because we will miss his smile.
We will miss being able to chat and laugh with him about things that Dan loved.
His children mourn because they can no longer ask him questions about childhood… or about their mom…
And Mary mourns because she will no longer be able to travel with him. She will miss his touch and being able to participate in adventures together, with her best friend…
His friends will miss the chance to be able to golf with him or to hunt with him…
This parish will miss the passion he had for the mission and ministry of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church…
But, we have been missing him for a while, haven’t we?
The family and friends of Dan wish to express their deep gratitude for the care the staff of The Maples, where Dan finished his life on earth, offered over this past couple of very difficult years. Mary let me know that the staff there, who tended to his daily needs, were fantastic.
She said that the staff offered dignity… to a man who suffered from a disease that works daily to strip its victims of dignity.
They worked hard to be the hands and feet of Jesus (whether they knew it or not) to show Dan and his family… love. To give him the dignity and respect all humans, by nature of their likeness to the creator, are born having.
So, we rejoice with Dan, because he is no longer suffering from Alzheimer’s.
He is no longer suffering at all.
Today… is a “good afternoon.”
The gospel that we just read a few minutes ago gives us a glimpse into why this afternoon is a good afternoon.
Jesus recognizes the pain that the friends and family of Lazarus are immersed in. That he, himself, found himself experiencing!
He loved Mary and Martha. He loved Lazarus.
In fact, in the paragraph that follows this reading, the text tells us that “Jesus wept.”
Jesus, the Creator of the Universe who intentionally put on flesh and bones and who subjected himself to human emotion and human suffering, wept.
For his friend, Lazarus.
And yet, Jesus knows that resurrection is coming for Lazarus. He realizes that death isn’t the end of the story. Not for Lazarus, not for Jesus…not for our friend, Dan and not for you and me.
So, for me, the beauty of this passage is in this line:
“Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus is WITH Martha, and Lazarus and Mary, in the resurrection just like he was with them in life.
And though I didn’t know Dan, I have heard a lot about him.
And it was all good.
All of it.
I’m sure that Dan had his days… that Dan, like all of us, could be difficult, but I find it remarkable that I didn’t hear anything negative about him.
I do know that he was baptized. That he served this church and his community… I heard from his son that he was a good Father… From Mary that he was a great husband…. I heard from members of this parish that he was a pillar.
Those are marks of a man who lived a life that was sustained by the teachings of Jesus. Those are marks of a man who lived the life that Jesus talks about in THIS text.
So we trust that now, Dan will also live into a new reality…
That he will be resurrected into a new reality that is more present with the creator of the Universe.
A new reality that is more fully present with the divine.
Yes, today is a good afternoon.
Let not your hearts be troubled, therefore, because your friend lives. With God in eternity, and in our hearts and minds in the memories and legacy he gifted us with.
Good Afternoon. “Your brother will rise again.” Amen.