I am here to honor Sandy, and I know all of you are here to do the same.
I actually never met her.
But I know something about Sandy because I love and adore her daughter Bethany.
And I know something about her because I know that Sandy and Danny were side by side in marriage for 41 years.
In the foyer before the service when I met Danny, he took my hand and he told me a little sliver of their love story. Four days after Sandy turned 18 years old, they eloped. They made promises to each other as teenagers that they would stand by one another in sickness, in health, in good times and in bad, in the rough patches and in the moments of bliss…. 18 years old, they made these promises to one another, and they kept them.
I know something about Sandy because I heard her love story, I heard about her long lasting marriage.
I know something about Sandy, because I browsed those pictures in the hallway tonight. If you haven’t looked at those pictures yet, spend some time at that center table and take a look- because there is something you will notice.
Sandy has this stance- in so many of the pictures out there- you can see Sandy in this stance- it’s the stance of an embrace. I saw a picture filled with smiles- and Sandy in her stance- embracing little Walker Chad. I saw a picture overflowing with joy- and Sandy there in her stance- embracing beautiful Stevie as a little girl. In another picture filled with light and hope, I saw Sandy in her stance, embracing Jeb under a tree.
It’s that stance of an embrace, arms stretched out in love and tenderness and that stance runs throughout those pictures in the foyer.
I know many of you were robbed of the chance to meet Sandy too- because we lost her too soon.
Let me tell you this: The best way that we can honor Sandy tonight is to love and embrace the people that she loved and embraced.
We are hurting tonight we because we grieve and weep for Sandy. We are hurting tonight because with Sandy, we lost a place of refuge in her arms—that stance of an embrace.
No matter what brings you here tonight, whether you knew Sandy personally or simply through the reflection of her in her children and her husband, remember that tonight we are here to honor her and care for her. But more than that, we are called to step in and offer that same stance over and over again to all those that Sandy loved.
If you have ever come to church, if you’ve ever prayed, if you’ve ever lifted your heart in devotion to our creator- than you know it all leads to this moment, when we are called to be the place of refuge and strength to our friends, to those we love. We are called to this stance: the open arms of an embrace, so that we can carry Chad, and Matthew, and Walker, and Stevie, and Jeb, and Kevin, and Bethany, and Danny every single day, until they have the strength to stand again.
And now, as we pray, in the spirit of that stance we are all called to take, I invite each of you to reach out and hold hands with your neighbor as we pray:
God, we stand here tonight hand in hand. Bind us together in support and love and unity.
We are here because we need each other. Let us be unified as care and compassion incarnate.
All of the Sundays we’ve come to church or prayed or cried out to You point us to this moment, this action, as we reach out to one another, hand in hand. Taking on that stance of an embrace.
Give us the endurance to hold each other up.
Give us the strength to embrace Danny and Chad and Bethany and Matthew in this time of deep heart ache.
Give us the wisdom to know when our words will be encouraging and helpful.
Give us the restraint to know when silence is the most healing power of all.
God may your healing spring forth, may a peace that passes all understanding hover over Danny, and Bethany, and Chad, and Matthew every single hour of their days.
May we all stand firm, side by side with Sandy’s family as that place of refuge that they will need for this journey ahead. Amen.
Copyright © 2012 Sarah Taylor Peck. All Rights Reserved.