Joe and Mary have been an integral part of Rainbow Mennonite. They have seen this place/people go through many changes,including a transition from Rainbow Boulevard to this current church location and building.
It’s probably true that it was the people and following God that mattered most to Joe and Mary, and yet location matters too. This place, this neighborhood is where we have chosen to learn to follow God together.
Today, I can’t help but think of all the locations that mattered to Mary Lou. I can’t help but think of the many types of soil and land that nurtured Mary Lou throughout her 80 plus years of life: Kansas soil (Halstead, North Newton and Kansas City), India soil, the soil/swamp of New Orleans. City land and rural land.
And now we stand here on this little plot of land, this location:
Mary Lou’s final resting place on earth.
Everyday various people will walk by: Neighborhood residents, children coming/running to and from the park, and Mennonite Voluntary Service workers (This is particularly special since Mary Lou and Joe were active supporters of the MVS unit house which we can see from this location.) There is a lot of activity in this little corner of the earth. Just listen: Basketballs dribbling, the sound of skateboards on pavement, train whistles, laughter, crying. So much life is here. And within life, there is death.
To stand here is to be reminded yet again of that truth: Death is part of life. And grief is deep. Yet, even more real than this finite life and even deeper than this sorrow is the love of God. It is this love which was the source of Mary Lou’s life. It is this love that I hope will sustain you, her cherished family.
I saw Mary Lou as a peaceful person. There’s a saying that peace comes when we realize our place in the universe and refuse to inflate it. We don’t want to deny our place either and so I hope this is a day of shining a light on the ways Mary Lou’s life reflected God’s goodness.
All of these things together (location, soil, peace) makes me think of the words found in Luke chapter 1:
God has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered the holy covenant…by the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.
Now, cherishing memories that are forever sacred, sustained by a faith that is stronger than death, and comforted by the hope of eternal life, let us now commit Mary Lou to this earth, into God’s safekeeping.
Closing prayer from Sing the Journey:
For those who walked with us, this is a prayer.
For those who have gone ahead, this is a blessing.
For those who touched and tended us,
who lingered with us while they lived, this is a thanksgiving.
For those who journey still with us in our awareness,
in our memories and in the landscape of our dreams, this is a benediction.
And for those who couldn’t make it, here is what I had prepared for the memorial service: Meditation-Mary Lou