May I speak in the Name of the Son, in the Power of the Holy Spirit, to the Glory of God the Father. AMEN.
On the last page of the last chapter of his last book for children, C. S. Lewis wrote:
“The dream is ended: this is the morning…” the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures…had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
This is not the end of the story. It is only the end of the beginning.
The story began, in this earthly realm, 93 years ago. Allison Morrison lived a long and full life, a memorable one, with memories left behind that we can begin to share today, as you meet each other and hear each other’s stories – of Allison getting together with folks on Friday mornings at Pancake Haus, of Rob and Allison anchoring their pew at the 8 o’clock services, of their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This is the part of the story that we know: but the story continues beyond our knowing, as Allison is received where she is known best of all, in the presence of God.
For each of us this life is only the beginning: death is not the end: life, in Christ, goes on into eternity.
We can share in the presence of Christ in this community together, in Eucharist: Allison and all those who have gone before us, share in that communion, too: in the presence of the Lord.
“Our journey,” Archbishop Sentamu has preached, “is towards oneness with God. As we journey, our calling is to make manifest to everyone the compassionate face of God made visible in Jesus Christ.”
We follow Jesus. We follow him to life in the presence of God. Someday like Allison each one of us will see him face to face. When that day comes, may we be like Peter, who, hearing on Easter morning that Jesus was alive, ran to the tomb to greet his risen Lord. In the meantime, may we run or walk, may we journey, as if Jesus were walking beside us – his presence a forgone conclusion.
“Jesus is in fact the presence of God’s truth and God’s life in the world,” Lesslie Newbigin writes, “and to know the Father means to follow the way which Jesus is, and which he has opened” for us, through the veil between this life and the next, “by his living, his dying, and his rising from the dead.”
The presence of God, the forgiveness of God, the grace of God, are all around us and present to us. It is a matter of us becoming present to Him.
Quite often we may feel his absence, as if he were gone. But even at those times he is right beside us, grieving with us in our sorrow and despair.
Sometimes we may forget how he sees us: the Lord sees the person he made and that he loves. He sees each of us in aspiration – in the Spirit – and sees the child of God within us. However distorted that image may seem to be, from time to time, it is there, shining behind the clouds of sin and desire, of folly and disease, and on the day that the Lord greets us, as he now greets Allison, we will shine with the reflected light of God’s glory and his loving greeting to us.
“Come my child, my beloved. Come home to the place I have made for you. Come to the table – and sit at the banquet – and rejoice in the presence and the plenty of God.”
May God in his grace abundantly enfold you, bringing you into his peace. Amen.
St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Edmonds, WA
March 15, 2008
Memorial Service for
Allison Morrison (October 11, 1915 – February 15, 2008)
Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33
(C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle, the last chapter, the last page.)
Archbishop of York, “We journey towards oneness with God“, Monday 12 February 2007
Service of commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Janani Luwum at Westminster Abbey, London
(Lesslie Newbigin, The Light Has Come, Eerdmans, 1982, p. 182)