* a funeral sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church on September 10, 2017 *
Since sermons are primarily intended to be heard, you can listen along here.
Text: Matthew 25:31-40
Please pray with me, church:
Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
Draw us close today,
And send us your peace that soothes our hurt,
And reminds us of your constant love for us.
There’s an image that I’ve been carrying around with me.
I saw it last Saturday, and it’s been in my mind all week.
As I sat with Sam, Samuel, Laura, and Matthew, and Megan, and Cameron last Saturday morning, Sam showed me a picture. It was from 30 years ago.
It was of Sam and Karlyn, standing together. Sam in a tuxedo and Karlyn in a beautiful dress. They were standing in this sanctuary. Standing right there in front of this altar.
It was from their wedding.
The sanctuary looked a little different then. We used to have blue carpet, if you can imagine it.
Sam and Karlyn looked a little different then too. Though I must say, Sam, you both aged really gracefully.
And then I noticed something, just to the right of where Sam was standing in the picture. A drop of green fabric over the altar and a blue wave off the side. And I remember thinking, “I’ve seen that wave before.”
And if your eyes are looking at the parament that’s hanging over our altar now, you’re having the same thought I had.
Actually I had two thoughts. The first was, “Man, I guess it really is time to update our paraments.”
But the second was wondering about this blue wave.
I wonder…what does this blue wave do for you? Where does your mind go when you consider this wave?
I’m pretty simple, I guess; it evokes for me the images of a river.
Flowing… Moving… Meandering… Rolling…
A photograph from 30 years ago. And a lifetime of stories since.
And a couple of strands of fabric drawing a thin connecting thread between then and now.
It’s a word that is synonymous with the Maultsbys, particularly with the Maultsbys and New Hope. We’ve all changed a great deal in 30 years, and yet, there’s something connecting all these threads and holding all these strands of fabric together.
When I began my call here at New Hope just about a year ago, Karlyn had just received her cancer diagnosis. And we’ve journeyed together a long way since then, haven’t we, Maultsby family?
You’ve had to travel an extremely tough road, but not once did you ever think you were doing it alone.
You approached this diagnosis together, with the same constancy that you approached your life here at New Hope. Karlyn once said, that the Maultsby’s involvement at New Hope was an investment. And what she meant by that is that by being deeply connected to this community of faith, by promising to raise your children here, and by committing to being involved so fully in the life and ministry of New Hope, you were instilling in your family a sense of responsibility, not just to the church, but to the community and neighborhood and people that this faith community serves.
For Karlyn, a high commitment to the life and ministry of New Hope was a given. And that investment has paid return upon return, as we have been and continue to be blessed by your presence and commitment to this community and our neighbors.
From teaching Sunday School and at Southminster Day School, to taking the lead in coordinating New Hope’s involvement with Fort Bend Family Promise all those years, Karlyn embodied service to the least of these.
Karlyn showed us what a life of discipleship—what a life of following Jesus—looks like.
And even this past year, one of the most difficult of your lives, that commitment remained and remains constant.
It’s the same constancy with which Karlyn is loved and cherished by God.
It’s the same continuous threads of the flowing river—of those waters of baptism—which extend all the way back to before the foundations of the earth were laid and all the way forward to God’s reconciliation of all things.
The same constant waters that fell over Karlyn’s head in her baptism, when God came close, and told Karlyn, “My dear, sweet, beloved child…you are mine…forever…”
We live in sure and certain hope of the resurrection because in baptism, God reaches out and names us and claims us as God’s very own.
St. Paul writes in Romans that, “Those of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. Therefore we have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
If we are united with Christ in a death like his…how much more surely, dear friends, will we be united with Christ in a resurrection like his.
It’s in these constant waters that we return to, that we remember the constancy of God’s great care for God’s children.
That we remember that we are surrounded and supported by the compassionate arms of a God who draws us close, and whose constancy will sustain us in the days to come.
That we remember the constancy of the fierce love with which our wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend lived.
And that we remember the constancy of God’s immeasurable love for us, and for Karlyn.