What I left out of my mother’s funeral sermon by L. Roger Owens for The Christian Century
GNN Note – My mom has been recently diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. In my heart I believe she will opt for the shorter term pain of 6 to 9 months without chemo. She has already made mention of “assisted suicide”. It is the most difficult time in my entire life. I give all praise to God for being here, close to her physically and Spiritually. Also all the honor goes to God for sobriety. While the feelings that roll through this body are difficult, it is a beautiful thing to feel them, to know them and to turn all I have to God for His strength and guidance. / END
I told the truth about her but not the whole truth.
At first, I was pleased with the sermon I preached at my mother’s funeral almost two years ago. To begin with, I made it through without breaking down. I’d let myself weep a few days earlier as I was writing it alone in my office so I could manage my emotions later when people were in the room.
When the time came in the service for the homily, I sidled past my wife and siblings out of the front pew and climbed the stairs toward the pulpit. I turned and looked at my family, some of Mom’s old friends, and a few church members who had last seen me here 30 years ago preaching on youth Sunday or singing a solo.
I spoke on a passage often read at weddings: 1 Corinthians 13. It was one of my mother’s favorites; a blanket bearing those well-known verses—love is patient, love is kind, and so on—draped her chair in the family room for as long as I can remember. Paul’s words reminded me of her, of her fierce love for her family. “Mom loved us by doing for us,” I said, and then I listed some of the ways she showed her love: making peach pies, running to the pharmacy for my grandmother, enduring a million Little League baseball games her grandsons were playing in and her teenage sons were umpiring, staying at the side of a dying sister, sitting by the bed of a dying husband. “It was all love,” I said.