Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Woodstock, VA
September 29, 2018
Isaiah 41:10, 13, 17 – 20 • Psalm 23 • 2 Corinthians 4:13 -5:1. 6-10 • John 14:1-6
Today, we gather, family and friends, give thanks for the life of Marcie Hartmann, a long-time member of our church and this community. We give thanks and celebrate Marcie’s incredibly wonderful life.
Andy and Tony have shared personal remembrances of Marcie, which reflect her family’s love.
Last year, I had the privilege and honor of officiating at Howard Hartmann’s funeral. Marcie and I had a chance to chat about Howard and their life together. The first thing I noticed about Marcie was her smile. It lit up a room. I was so happy to get to know pieces of Marcie’s life. I had many things in common with Marcie, I think. She was a voracious reader and was usually reading at least two books simultaneously. Guilty as charged.
I got to know a bit about her life with Howard. There was such deep love and devotion. 67 years together is quite a love story and they lived it from their early days together as students at Denison University and continued in their later years as they traveled the country by train and convertible.
Marcie was the quintessential “Mom”. She did it all. Most of all I have the sense that she offered the tender presence of God to all those kids who came through her house in search of the ever-present Kool-Aid in the fridge. She gave those young people a little glimpse of the great banquet in heaven, in those moments of community.
Today, we’re hearing the wonderful sounds of musicians from Shenandoah University. Marcie trained as a classical singer and classical pianist and later as a registered nurse who worked in home hospice care in its inception. She is overjoyed at this expression of worship and God’s love.
Our actions and choices matter. We’re not casually scattered over the earth for no particular purpose; we’re each of us an amazing child of God here to receive and to reflect God’s love. That’s what Marcie Hartmann did in her earthly life. Her actions, her choices mattered to many people, most especially her children and their friends.
Today, as at the funeral of every Christian we have a celebration of Easter. We are gathered here today to celebrate God’s gift to us of new life. That is why we have the Pascal Candle, the symbol of new fire that is lit anew at Easter Vigils in churches throughout the world.
Here is what Jesus tells us:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me…I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”
On the day that Jesus died, the disciples were left with their grief, a great sense of loss and pain, and confusion at how their Lord could tell them in a time like to “not let their hearts be troubled.” After all, they had seen that Jesus had gone not to a great mansion, or to a palace, or to triumph, but to the cross. To death. To the grave. Back to the very dust of the earth.
Yet we know what the disciples could not have known on that Friday – that the glories of Easter, the glory of Christ’s resurrection, were only just beyond the horizon.
God is faithful to God’s promises. God is with us on our journey and waiting to receive us as we make the transition from life through death to new life. The promise of Jesus in the Gospel of John is a powerful one.
Today we celebrate the fact that Marcie is embraced for all eternity in the light and love, power and presence of the Living God. There is the paradox of death and life, death and resurrection. Grieving her death is a very natural, human response, but the final word today is not death, but life.
We celebrate and give thanks for the life of Marcie. But most of all we give thanks for the new life that God prepares for each of us and all of us – life lived in the eternal presence and love of the God who is the source of all life and love.
I recently read Sally Fields autobiography and was taken by how she describes the deaths of her mother and grandmother. Of knowing that there was someone on the other side. Marcie was met by Howard who along with God had prepared a place for her.
I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; I know that my Redeemer liveth. In the midst of death, we proclaim resurrection. We believe in the resurrection. We believe in the Incarnate Christ and all that he has brought to us.
To Andy, Chris, Jeff and Suzanne – please know that you are upheld in love and prayer by this community and by God. I pray that you may be nourished by God’s people, this community, through the riches of God’s grace and be strengthened by the love of God. Marcie was living through that strength during her entire life and she continued to do so to the very end.