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Thursday, July 22

A Funeral Sermon for a tragic death

I doubt that there is anyone in this sanctuary right now, who would want
to trade places with me and do what surely cries out to be done. Namely, to offer some words of comfort in the midst of so many unanswered questions and such a painful loss. For something you have cared about, and respected, has wasted its chances in one of those agonizing acts of the anxious soul.
Our emotions can swing from shock to grief,
-- from hurt to anger,
-- from guilt, to accusation,
-- from acceptance to judgment.
-- and then all over again, from grief to puzzlement.
If I did have a word that would ease such pain, I would use it now. But, being human, all I have is words, and these so weak and frail. However, I must nevertheless try.  In some sense, I believe there is a lot of truth in the statement that "we all die when we want to":

-- we give up trying,
-- we grow discouraged or disillusioned,
-- we grow old either in body or in emotions
-- and finally the will gives assent.

Naturally, we say to ourselves,
if only I had been able to persuade Corey to take a pitch,
if only Hendry would have agreed to get help,
if only Dusty could have seen how many people cared for him
-- the 'if onlys' are endless.

However, having mentioned all of this, I don't believe that we serve this year's  memory or further our own well-being, by dwelling on the manner of the demise of the Cubs. By doing so we allow the victimization of their own turmoil to continue within our own lives. There are some things we will never know this side of the grave--like why it was that a runner with a bad groin would be sent home from second on a sharply hit single; why a man entrusted with the role of 'closer' would request to be left alone by the press.

We have, then, no choice but to learn to live in the midst of that mystery. Nor is this a time to concentrate on the season that might have been. It is, nevertheless, a time to give thanks for the joy and laughter that you have experienced in watching the games and treasured, as hope sprang eternal every April.

But I also stand here now, not just as a friend or acquaintance of some of you, but more particularly I stand in this place as a voice of reason and responsibility, attempting to offer out of that tradition and faith, not a mindless faith, but a realistic faith born of promise and dedication, words of healing hope and assurance. 
The issue of faith becomes, for me at least the willingness to dare to believe that behind this world, even in the midst of unspeakable suffering or grief, there is a hidden and all-embracing love which rests on the gracious conviction, that there is more mercy in God than sin in us. If this is so, then God has set a value on the Cubs winning a pennant, and on our own values, that nothing can destroy, not even death. Those, therefore, whom God does not cease to love, cannot cease to exist, however long it takes for our beloved ball team to finally figure out the mystery. 
Let us pray.....

Thank you, Rev. C. Wayne Hilliker