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11.30.11 Justification by Faith, Remembering Kit

by on December 5, 2011

We gather today to celebrate the gift of life that Kit received from God, and that we received through Kit. Kit asked that when the time came for such a gathering, it should be filled with happiness, and funny stories, and loving stories. “Not sad stories,” Kit wrote, “because I’ve had a great life.”

Though still a challenge, her wishes might have been easier to fulfill were not the circumstances of her death what they are. Her life did not slip away naturally and peacefully. The gift of her life which we celebrate today was ripped from us and from the world by evil. The light of her life did not fade away, dimming progressively in such a way that we could get used to being without her. It was callously extinguished, and we woke up one morning last week in a darkness to which our eyes have yet to become accustomed.

Nonetheless, we gather to celebrate Kit’s life. We gather to remember and rejoice with her for the “great life” she did live. We gather to give thanks for the ways her life enhanced our lives. But we also gather in the dark valley of the shadow of death. And while we take comfort from the presence of the Good Shepherd of our souls, God himself in Jesus Christ, we are just the same dealing with a confusion of emotions: shock, denial, anger, even rage; regret, remorse, an unyielding sense of loss; sadness, grief, despair, perhaps resignation.

As we gather in Kit’s remembrance, we gather also in the name of the one she confessed as Lord. His promise to Kit, and to us, is that there is a place prepared in the household of God, where we will be reunited with one another. And so behind the swirling clouds of emotions that accompany us this day, is that ray of light, that hope of resurrection waiting to emerge, waiting to be seen, and to lead us into God’s eternal presence. Christ’s promise is made in waters of baptism [fill font], and our hope is sustained at the Table of the Lord. Let us pray.

Gracious and everlasting God, in you we live and move and have our being. Today we return a life to you, not as we would have chosen for ourselves, but trusting in your will nonetheless—or at least we would like to trust. Help us through these days of mourning. Maintain your faithfulness to never leave or forsake us, though we may doubt or despair. You have given us life as a gift to be received with gratitude, and a task to be pursued with courage. The life we remember this day, and return to your care, was one filled with gratitude and courage. As we remember Kit, and the gift of her life to us, we remember you, and the delight you had in giving her to us. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen us, for we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Homily and Prayer

Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome provides the foundation for much of the thinking in the Christian church. It was the book of Romans that inspired some of the greatest ministers in the church, including Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, and Karl Barth. And Romans clearly inspired the saint we remember today, Kit G———–.

Romans teaches us that our relationship with God is made right because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That God has made this true shows God’s grace. There are many things that are true, but that have no impact on our lives. It is true, for example, that the sun set in Germany this day at 3:57pm. That truth has no impact on our lives.

Today in Colorado Springs, the sun will set at 4:38pm. That is true, and it has an impact on our lives, because it means our candles will be seen when we gather at Palmer Park at 5:30 tonight.

How does God’s grace, which is absolutely true in Jesus Christ, have an impact on our lives? The answer is through faith, through our believing it. The technical term that Paul uses in referring to this reality is “justification.” Hear, then, Romans 5:1-5, and listen for the truth that can have such a transformative impact on our lives.

Kit was a woman who believed in God’s grace. She believed that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, her relationship with God was secure. Kit was, in Paul’s words, “justified by faith.” For this reason, even though we grieve today, we also rejoice. Paul says, “we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” Sharing in God’s glory is what awaits us when we die. And so Kit’s instructions for our time together to be characterized by happiness, fun, and love, are testimonies of her faith in the truth of God’s grace.

But we don’t have to wait until death to share in God’s glory. Paul says, “we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that our suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

I have only walked with Kit as her pastor for the past three and a half years. In that time I witnessed Kit suffer under conditions common to an aging body. Through it all, Kit remained positive, courageous, hopeful, and encouraging. Only with great sadness did she relinquish her responsibilities as a Deacon for our church, and organizing our greeters on Sunday morning. On the other hand, when we needed someone to teach high school on Sundays two years ago, Kit stepped forward.

Paul says that faith in God’s grace through our suffering produces endurance, character, and hope. This was certainly true of Kit. Listen to some of the comments made in the past week:

  • She was a role model like no other and a true servant of God.—Stephen
  • I will always remember you as a beautiful, intelligent, humorous, diligent woman!—Deborah
  • Kit has touched so many lives in such a positive way and she leaves a void in everyone’s heart. –Elizabeth
  • Kit was an amazing woman, intelligent, kind and giving!—Sarah
  • Kit will always be remembered for her bright personality and willingness to help others. –George
  • She was a sweet kind and loving person that tried to help anyone she came in contact with. –Andy
  •  Kit embraced life never giving in to feeling sorry for herself – always looking for the good in life and people!—Christine
  • She taught me age is just a number as she always continued to set goals and at 87 was motivated to help others to see an opportunity for a better life. We should always hold her as a role model as how to mature in life. She never stopped learning and she never stopped growing.—Arthur

Kit was an exemplary person. In the church, we call such people saints. Her life and her faith are testimonies of God’s grace. In other words, by knowing Kit, we got to know God better. She inspired us to be better than we think we are. Just like God. Like Jesus, she urged us to make good decisions, and constantly reminded us that we will reap what we sow. Bill was a friend of Kit’s who understood her heart, and in doing so, he understood God’s heart also. A comment he made challenges and inspires me, but it also reflects Kit’s faith, and the Spirit of God. His comment was this, “As hard as it may be I will say a prayer for your killer, I know that is what you would wish.”

That is an unimaginable thing to even conceive of doing for many of us. I think Bill is right; Kit would want us to come, eventually, no matter how long it might take, to such a place of grace and faith, that we would even pray for our enemies, as Jesus called us to do.

It is impossible, except by God’s grace, in which all things are possible. It is possible to be angry in God’s grace. Let us be angry. It is possible to grieve in God’s grace. Let us grieve. It is possible to give thanks in God’s grace. May we give thanks. It is possible even to rejoice in our suffering in God’s grace. May we rejoice.

And it is possible to grow in God’s grace. Kit thoroughly demonstrated that fact throughout her life. May we grow in God’s grace. To the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Let us pray.

Almighty God, every life is equally precious to you, for you are the creator of life, and you are perfect love. But not every life is equally precious to us. Today we mourn the loss of a life precious to you and to us. Give us comfort in the communion we have with you by your Spirit, in the solidarity we have with one another as those who grieve, in the hope of resurrection which is your promise to us in Christ. Grant us the grace required to boast not only in death, but also in suffering, of the hope of sharing in your glory. Then bring us to communion with Christ and all the saints, into which we commend our beloved friend, Kit G——–. Until such time, we pray with all who call upon your name, Our Father . . .

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2 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing this online, Tom.

    • Charles permalink

      You did a very good job on a difficult occasion. But then you had such great material with which to work. Very touching service. I’ll miss Kit too.

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