Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Memorial Service for Gerene Mayer and Greg Mayer

 


The Memorial Service for

Gerene Mayer

October 28, 1928-June 9, 2022

Gregory Mayer

December 10, 1948 – Dec. 3, 2021

July 28, 2022

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Alexandria, Minnesota

 


+ I am very honored to be here.

 For those who might not know, I have had a very long and wonderful history with this family.

 For over 16 years, I have married and baptized and buried members of the family.

 In fact, just the other day was thinking about the wedding of Kelly and Chris way back in July of 2006.

 That beautiful wedding on that stifling hot day in Plymouth. Was it at  the Millennium Gardens?

 In fact, I am wearing the same alb and stole today that I wore that day.

 And way back on June 28, 2014, I officiated at the memorial service for Wally at my own parish, St. Stephen’s in Fargo.

 I of course have known all of you longer than that.

 And I think I may have known Greg longest of all.

 Back when I was a parishioner at Gethsemane Cathedral in Fargo, Greg was often in what was then called Foyers, a group that would meet at each other’s homes for supper.

 And I remember him well at Alpha which was a Bible study, or just simply at church.

 And I remember knowing Gerene and Wally way back when they were members of Grace Church, Jamestown.

 So, we have known each other in way or the other for over twenty years.

 So I am truly honored to be here, to officiate at this service, and to remember and commend both Gerene and Greg to God.

  Gerene of course was very special to me.

 She was truly ana amazing person.

 She always seemed to carry herself with a sense of dignity and inner strength that amazed me at times.

 I was always impressed by that and by her.

 I genuinely liked her.

 I remember so well how she carried herself after Wally’s death, and how she enjoyed seeing those great-grandchildren baptized.  

 She had a strength and purpose to her that I admired.

 And I’m happy she liked me too.

 I don’t know if Greg liked me, though I think he did.

 But I have to say that every time I saw him, every time he was present, he brought, in his own way, his own sense of humor, even when he might not have been feeling well.

 Both Gerene and Greg were, to the very end, good Episcopalians and  faithful followers of Jesus.

 The church was important to them.

 And like any good Episcopalian, they loved The Book of Common Prayer, the book from which we are doing this service today.

  Now, people often ask me, “so, what is it you Episcopalians believe?”

And I say, “We believe what we pray.”

We’re not big on dogmas.

We not big on telling people what to do.

But we are big on prayer and worship.

Our liturgy—what we find contained in our Book of Common Prayer—encompasses our beliefs very well.

And, I can tell you, that it certainly did for Gerene and Greg, and Wally too.  

No doubt if you asked any of them, “what do you believe?”

They would probably point you to the Book of Common Prayer, or at least encompass the belief found there.  

Well, Greg would probably say more.

Greg had a deep love of scripture, and he knew his Bible well.

And I have no doubt he would point us all in that direction.

But still, through and through, they were all good Episcopalians.

And I think that’s why so many of us feel kind of comfortable in the Episcopal Church.

And that’s also why we’re here today.

In this beautiful church.

Gerene’s parents were married here.

And, in moments like this, it just feels right that we are here, commending these great people to God.

This service we are celebrating together today is packed from its very beginning to its end with some amazing words and images.

It’s a simple service, it’s a down-to-earth service.

But it is a service that has so much meaning and purpose within it.

This Burial service we are celebrating today is chock full of meaning.  

Probably some of the best of it is at the end of our service.

At that time, I will lead us in what is called “The Commendation.”

Now for many of us, who are long-time Episcopalians, we have heard the words of the Commendation hundreds of times.

But it’s important to pay attention to what it says to us.

Because if you do pay attention, you will find the heart in which  Gerene and Greg’s faith was found.

In the Commendation, it will end with those very powerful words:

All of us go down
to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia,
alleluia, alleluia.

Those words show us that despite all that life—and yes, even death—throw at us, we can still hold up our heads with integrity, bolstered by our faith in God.

Even in the face of whatever life may throw at us we will not let those bad things win.

“…yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia,
alleluia, alleluia.”

For both Gerene and Greg, that has some deep meaning today.

I know that these last years were hard for Gerene.

She knew some hardships in her life.

And Greg.

Well, we all know the hardships that Greg endured in his own life.

He was someone who truly suffered at times in his life.

Sometimes I could see it in his eyes.

And I always felt bad for the pain that he carried with him.

Today, we take consolation in the fact that for both of them, all of that is over now.

For them, all that pain that they endured in this life is over.

And in this holy moment they are whole.

They are who they are meant to be.

They are complete.

Today, all the good things that Gerene and Greg were to us—all of that is not lost.

It is not gone.

Death has not swallowed that up.

Rather all of that is alive and dwells now in Light inaccessible.

All of that dwells in a place of peace and joy, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

In a place in which, there never again be any more tears.

Except, maybe, tears of joy.

And for us who are left, we know that that place awaits us as well.

That place of light and joy awaits each of us as well.

And we to will have the opportunity to dwell there.

We will miss Gerene. And we will miss Greg.

The more we love someone, the deeper the pain we feel at their loss.

That is just the cost we must pay for love.

We will all miss them and will feel their loss for a long time to come.

But, on this day in which we bid them this temporary goodbye, let us also be thankful.

Let us be thankful for these people whom God has been gracious to let us know and to love.

Let us be thankful for all they were to us.

 Let us be thankful for all that they taught us and continue to teach us.

And let us be grateful for all they have given us in our own lives.

And let us be truly thankful that Gerene and Wally and Greg are now all together.

And let us look forward to the day when we too will join them in that place of unending life and peace.

Into paradise may the angels lead you, Gerene and Greg.

At your coming may the martyrs receive you, and bring you into the holy city Jerusalem.

Amen.


 

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