Funeral Homily

for an Accidental Death


For an Accidental Death

1 Corinthians 15:50b-58; 1 Timothy; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

By The Rev. Clare Kelley

You may have heard it said that death is the one thing every one has in common
While that is true on one level,
On several others, death is not the same experience for any two of us

For some of us death will come at the end of a long life or a long illness
It may be something we wait impatiently for
It is likely to be a welcome release
For both the one who is dying
And the family and friends who have witnessed long suffering

For many of us, death will be a surprise visitor
With no time to prepare ourselves or our loved ones
With no time to plan how that death will be commemorated
With no clear understanding of “why”
“why now?”

Why did he have to die now?
It seems to soon
It seems to sudden
And sometimes, like in ****’s case, death will come with more questions about “how”
How did this strange accident take place?
What exactly happened?

Many of us those questions will never be clearly answered
They are mysteries
And we will have to decide how to deal with them
Whether to get stuck forever trying to get answers to impossible questions
Or whether to trust in our loving Creator
To leave the unknowable to the one (the only one) who knows
To trust that where we cannot see
a purpose or understand the timing of what seems to be a random act
our God is still the sovereign of all Creation
and all things work together to achieve God’s good purpose for our lives

I can clearly recall a moment in my life
when I was aching to understand why some painful things had happened
I lay in bed at night asking God over and over “Why?”
I bargained with God,
If you’ll just tell me why,
I’ll accept this and be alright

And at that moment I had the closest thing I’ll likely ever have to a “vision”
A clear picture came into my mind
I was in space with the infinite universe and the uncountable stars all around me
And spread out across the cosmos
farther than the eye could see (even in a vision)
Was something like a giant blue print
Billions and billions of interconnected lines
Densely filling the page
Every square inch filled with intricate patterns

And I realized that some how this “blue print” had depth as well as height and width
It was drawn in at least three dimensions, maybe more
And when I looked closely at the page in front of me
I realized that I was standing at the crossing of hundreds, perhaps thousands of these fine lines
Almost like there was a “you are here and now” dot on the page

In that moment, I realized that I don’t have enough brain cells to even “see” this pattern that God has drawn, less well understand it
So God and I had a good laugh at my arrogance
And I turned the situation back over to God and went sleep

While some of us will have more warning of our approaching deaths and may understand the how and have a better guess at the “why now”
All of us are left with one mystery – “what next?”

For those of us who are Christians we may not even think of the what next as a mystery
We who have a deep and abiding faith (as **** had)

Have become so used to trusting the what next to our God and our Savior
That we forget that we don’t actually “know”
At least not in same way we know where we are right now or
What is happening around us

And yet the only reason that we aren’t begging God to explain the “what next”
Is that we have faith that everything Jesus told us is true
He has gone ahead to prepare a place for us
And where he is, we will be also
Our place in paradise is assured
We trust (even though it is still a mystery)
That “we will not all die, but we will all be changed . .
That Death has lost its sting”

I’d like to suggest that the way to handle the suddenness and the incomprehensible parts of ****’s death
Is with that same trust

Trust the Scripture from Ecclesiastes which says

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

Trust that in God’s wisdom it was the appointed time
And Trust that the Good Shepherd
The one who
makes us lie down in green pastures;
who leads use beside still waters;
3and restores our souls.
Was with **** when he walked through the darkest valley of the shadow of death
Helping him to fear no evil;
Comforting him.

Trust this just as surely as you know
That **** now dwells in the house of the LORD

Copyright 2008, Clare Kelley . Used by permission.