The notes below are drawn from a homily preached at the funeral of the late Terry Green at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Summerland by the Very Rev. Ken Gray
Terry loved Christmas! Oh my gosh he loved Christmas. He would tell me stories when St. Stephen’s, the Stone Church in Summerland was lit solely by candlelight for Christmas Eve services. When the singing and preaching were done, and Holy Communion (BCP) was shared, he would return to his mother’s home (in which he and Linda lived following her death) for a drink or two; he didn’t want the day to end.
Terry loved Christmas – and he loved Linda, his wife of 45 years, and his children Corey and Erynne and their growing families. He loved his community and his church. Terry lived his entire life in Summerland. He participated in so many aspects of Church and Community life as both a leader and a dreamer. A teacher for 32 years he was active in the BC Teachers Federation and more recently the Retired Teachers Association with his friend and colleague, Arnie Lambert. He believed that progressive NDP politics could and would produce a more just society. And if these loves were not enough, he loved very, very strong coffee.
I asked Linda what he loved about Christmas; she quickly replied “hope.” Good answer, though it must be admitted that hope is a fickle thing, especially where serious illness is concerned. Over many months Terry, his family and frankly, all of us danced with hope — initially hoping that this pestilent cancer would just go away. We next hoped and prayed that a course of treatment would bring either a cure or an endurable course of living giving him a few more years. When initial treatment was discouraging we prayed that other regimens would produce good results . . . all until that last week when we hoped for comfort and trust, and as it may be, peace.
Hope is a peculiar blend between things known and things unknown. Hope is humbling. Hope requires that we place trust in another. Nowhere is hope more necessary than in the facing of our own mortality or in that of others. We are all mortal, and the great transition to what lies beyond physical life will come to us all. Let us all prepare for that which is inevitable though unpredictable.
The Gospel text I chose for our celebration is an unusual one for a funeral. As I seek to take those aspects of Terry’s life
that I find meaningful, as I try to shape them into a comforting and helpful homily, I turned to the Gospel of Luke 18:15-17:
People were bringing even infants to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’
To Touch, to Teach – Today I find both verbs to be interchangeable. Certainly, we are all aware of the proper uses (and the abuses) of touch in our own day. That said, I recall visiting folks in long term care many years ago. After our service, the priest told me to circulate through the room and to touch everyone – a hand on the shoulder or a tap on the knee – no more, no less. These were people who were isolated from family, friends, from each other and from life. Their bodies and in some cases, their communities, had let them down. In such touching, the discipline of love is practiced.
Terry touched the lives of so many in his seventy-three years in and from Summerland. That is one reason why a full church of worshippers gathers here today during a winter storm and with the highway closed to the north of town. We join together, to say “thank you” to Terry and to our Creator — for him, for each other, for creation, and for God.
The Full Order of Service can be viewed here.