Linda Noll Funeral Prayer Service
Why? At moments like this, I think that’s one of the first questions that comes to mind. Why? Why are we here? Why did this happen? Why did God allow this? Why?
I suspect in today’s Gospel that that was the question of Martha, at least, and probably Mary. And it’s interesting, although we didn’t hear Mary, she says the same thing to Jesus. Lord, if you had been here, my brother never would have died. It’s easy to feel abandoned when someone we love dearly is no longer with us.
In fact, I suspect the family, at least, and probably many of us, can resonate with this speech that was actually given by the prophet Jeremiah, who really had little success as a prophet. My soul is deprived of peace. I have forgotten what happiness is. I tell myself my future is lost, all that I hoped for from the Lord.
Those are normal and natural feelings in the face of death. But we aren’t here to feel more depressed and more sad than we already are. We’re here, actually, to do two fundamentally important things for human beings of faith.
The first reason we’re here is to support one another. One of the cruel ironies of life is that our sadness is directly related to the depth of our love and concern. The greater our love, the deeper the sadness. And so the first thing is to do what many of the Jews did for Martha and Mary. They came out to support them during this terrible loss.
We know little about what happened to Lazarus, why he died, but it doesn’t matter. We know that when loved ones pass away, we really are thrown for a loop, especially when that passing away comes as suddenly and as quickly as it did for Linda. But we need to think about our hope.
Because without God, this is no better. And quite frankly, I would argue a whole heck of a lot worse. Martha had placed her faith in God. She had come to believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people. She had come to know in her own life and deep in our heart that Jesus was the resurrection and the life.
But our final destination isn’t here. It’s with Jesus forever in heaven if we simply open our hearts to him and cooperate with his grace. And that’s what we cling to. That’s what we hope for. That’s what we believe.
I’ll offer one little thing that sometimes in depths like this gives me at least a little bit of comfort and consolation. Notice I said the word little. This is, in every single way, a sad moment for us.
But Linda was facing in her health unbelievable challenges that even if she had lived, it would not have been easy. Anybody that knows Linda knows that she would not have weathered well being able to do very little. That would have been a suffering that none of us would have wished upon Linda.
You know, if you want to know what Martha was like in the gospel, she went right out to meet Jesus. She was the one that was doing all the hospitality things and so forth. We could just as easily say that’s Linda. She was a Martha. She was a doer.
But her doing took direction because of her heart. It can be easy and maybe I’m a little sensitive to this as a former high school president, but it can be easy to forget the importance of fundraising. In fact, Henry Nouwen wrote a book on the spirituality of fundraising.
But the things that Linda did by pouring out her heart and soul enables CBC to be what it is. See, without events like the auction and all of the other development things and all the things that Linda was a part of here, we’d be a different school. We’d either be much smaller or we would only have families able to send their kids to this school who were very wealthy.
But that isn’t who we are and she knew that. Families choose to send their kids here. Linda knew why. Because they want their kids in an environment where they need all kinds of different people because that’s the real world. And Linda poured out her heart and soul so that that would be possible. That it would be possible for kids to come here even if their family was not as fortunate.
When I think of Linda in my own experience here, I always imagine her with a smile. She always seemed so happy. Where did that come from? I think there were two sources for that happiness. The first, the foremost, her family.
You can see that she knew she was loved. You can see that she experienced the love of her family members of multiple generations. And by the way she shared pictures of you, her grandchildren, she was awfully fond of you. She loved you a lot.
And so our task in supporting each other is first and foremost to think about prayer. Prayer is for Linda, prayer is for the family, prayer is for each other. Because it’s through these prayers that we remember that the power of our life is in our relationship with others and with God.
In fact, if we want to know, the whole law in the prophets is summed up in two commands. To love God and to love each other without exception. Today let us ask the Lord for the grace to come to believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. And that in this great promise of Jesus, we will see Linda again and enjoy her friendship.
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