Funeral Sermon

Her Generous Life

A funeral homily for a kind and hospitable woman

Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:2-7; John 14:1-6

The Rev. Charles Hoffacker

What I have heard from some of you in the days leading up to this funeral is that Kay Moore was a people person, that she was someone who engaged in hospitality and practical kindness to others, that “Kay was active in many area clubs and supported numerous charities.” For decades, so it seems, she was surrounded by people, people who were attracted to her—and for good reason.

This church is one of the places where Kay was active, engaged in serving meals and working as parish secretary. It is good for those of us who witnessed these things to recall them, and for those of us who did not, to hear about them.

I have come to believe, as I am sure you have as well, that whether by birth or upbringing, certain people turn out to be connectors. They are in touch with numerous folks, far more than the rest of us, and they make this connecting seem effortless. They seem energized by the business of human relationship, while the rest of us prove less agile at maintaining linkages with others. I have ample reason to believe Kay was one of these connectors.

But connectors can put to fair use or foul their gift for relating to people. And here is where Kathleen Moore stood out. Her natural gift as a connector was consecrated to the purposes of fellowship, hospitality, and kindness.

A hymn written shortly before her birth extends to us this challenge: “Brighten the corner where you are.” Perhaps she knew the hymn, but she did not need its counsel. Kay would not rest content with brightening one corner. She would illuminate the entire room, maybe the whole house.

All of us are here to reflect something of the glory of God. Kay did so in memorable ways through habits of kindness, hospitality, and fellowship.

The reading from Isaiah we heard this morning announces the hospitality of God. It tells us of when the Lord of hosts will welcome all peoples of the earth to a feast of rich food. The Lord will destroy the power of death, and wipe the tears from every face, and sit us down to a banquet where rejoicing will never cease. In her simple way, Kay Moore pointed people ahead to this ultimate kindness and hospitality and fellowship. For this we can thank God.

In the passage from John’s Gospel I read to you, Jesus tells his disciples not to be troubled; for he leaves to prepare places for them—and for us—in the splendor of his Father’s house. What kindness and hospitality Jesus practices! What fellowship he labors to establish! There was a glimmering reminder of this in the actions of Kay Moore. For this we can thank God.

The final months of Kay’s life were hard. Company was sparse compared to what it had been. Opportunities for connecting appeared few and far between.

Still this period was pregnant with a future, a future worthy of Kay’s desire and our own. For consider in today’s reading from Revelation what the one seated on the throne announces: “See, I am making all things new.”

A graceful gravity pulls us all into the future. On earth that pull feels nearly imperceptible, but those, like Kay, who die in Christ, enter a free fall into that future.

And so Kay finds herself once more in a world of kindness and hospitality and fellowship, and this time it is a world eternal.

Now she is not a bestower of gifts, but a recipient of bounty; not a convener of fellowship, but one called to join the circle; not a hostess spreading a sumptuous feast, but a grateful guest who enjoys it forever.

Our genial God turns the tables on Kathleen Moore, commanding her to take her seat while he does the duty of host. Thus the Lord makes everything new and fills the hearts of his people, fills them to overflowing with joy.

This genial God turned the tables on us as well. For in her fellowship and hospitality and kindness we thought we saw Kathleen Moore at work, and we were right; but it was the Holy Ghost active as well, manifest through the actions of her generous life.

  • Copyright 2008, Charles Hoffacker. Used by permission. Fr. Hoffacker is the author of A Matter of Life and Death: Preaching at Funerals (Cowley Publications), a book devoted to helping clergy prepare funeral homilies that are faithful, pastoral, and personal.