Follow me on Twitter @revbrock

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Missing the Presence

Missing the Presence
Funeral sermon delivered for Miss Callie Tullos
Waco, Texas
January 11, 2012

Dear friends, there is not enough time and there are not enough words to bring comfort into this place. I am more than honored to be given the charge of saying something of meaning into the deep darkness that has befallen our community. We must first cast ourselves into the arms of god, whose great love compels him to receive us and comfort us in our hurt if we will but be embraced in his loving kindness. Just as Jonathan had to part with his beloved friend David, saying "tomorrow is the feast of the new moon. You'll be missed because your place at the table will be empty," so will Callie be missed at every gathering, in every class, and at every holiday. This absence is great, but the embrace of our God is greater. There is more love and mercy in God than there is sorrow in man.
What can we say about our beloved Callie Belle? It seems shallow to speak of her beauty, though she was so beautiful. It seems callous to speak of her joy and effervescence, as we are as far from joy today as we can be. No, if anything we should think of her faith, the faith that made her beauty more stunning, her joy complete, and her life worth celebrating.
Within the great, wide diversity of the Christian family the Celtic believers stand out unique in their passionate spirituality and devotion to the Lord. These believers visit what they call "thin places," places where they find the veil separating our world from the divine to be as frail as a spider's web, like the lace between the groom and is bride in those moments before they are wed. At these thin places believers experience glimmers and flashes of the divine love and joy, driving them to celebrate and share in the Lord's love and joy in this world.
I think if Callie as a movable "thin place." Who, after but a moment in her presence could not detect the Divine Presence that wells up to joy and love in her and in those she meets? How long did it take you to recognize that this young woman was a poorly disguised window into something heavenly?
Our congregation in Riesel noticed. Every week that Callie worshipped with us was a week the sermon was a little more poignant, the hymns a little more poetic, the presence more potent. One of the best times I had with Callie was when she helped chaperone a children's ministry trip to Six Flags. She was never above "the least of these" or too busy for a day of play with little boys and girls who loved her. She was willing to share that "thin place" with the rest of us.
Cheryl, I hope you know how much of a minister Callie was to me and our community while you were hospitalized. Never before and not since have I encountered such fierce and unrelenting faith in one so young. From that first day when you were admitted to the shopping trips and spa days that marked your latest recovery Callie never broke faith in God's ability to heal you and to restore you. Every Facebook post, every text, and every smile on her lips testified that she knew something the rest of us just couldn't see yet. She had a glimpse of God's love and joy that came from within and beyond her. It was her calling and ministry to me and to so many others that our Redeemer was never so far away.

We reflect on the promise of God, that he will one day remove death from life, that old enemy being swallowed up in the victory of the resurrection. We wait for every tear to be wiped from our eyes and our mourning to end and out pain to cease. We wait for consolation, for joy, for the tender hand of our god to cradle the back of our head and tell us for the last time, "there there." We wait for the day when the last hopeful words of the Old Testament, spoken through the Prophet Malachi, will be real to us: "They shall be mine, says the Lord of Hosts, my treasured possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them."
Surely we can hope in this. Surely there is, in the midst of this thick darkness the light of hope. For surely God will act - he has claimed what was his, Callie, his treasured possession.

No comments:

Post a Comment