Rest in peace, Sandy

Yesterday, we saw our friend Sandy Baudier laid to rest. It’s a little spooky that when I was writing last week, I was almost exactly right:

It’s very strange to be writing about something like this, knowing that the person you are writing about – a real living person who has laughed and cried and loved and suffered in this real world for a long time – could be breathing her last at this very minute.

I was writing that at just about the same time she was in fact dying.  This is a much harder thing for Kim and her parents, who have known Sandy for decades.  My main interaction with her was at Christmas when Kim’s family would make a full Christmas dinner and take it across the street to the Baudier house, where they had also made a full Christmas dinner.  There would be an insane amount of food and always delightful conversation.  The thing that I will remember most about Sandy was how Christmas Eve dinner always had a birthday cake for Jesus.  I thought that was a remarkably simple and yet poignant reminder of what the night was about.  It was a great way to bring theology into real life, in a far more visceral way than putting a “Jesus is the reason for the season” sign in your front yard.

The funeral was a very small graveside affair – perhaps 15 people in attendance, as Vic Baudier desired.  Kim’s aunt Margaret Ashby (an ELCA pastor) led the service.  I was struck again by what a hard job pastors have.  This time the challenge was trying to give a meaningful funeral address to somebody you don’t know.  Perhaps she had met Sandy in passing when visiting Kim’s parents, but at a time when you are trying to summarize the significance of a life, how hard it is even if you really know the person!

One of the scripture texts that was read in the funeral was from Colossians, which we just finished studying in a sermon series at our church.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:5-8

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17

I know that’s a pretty long read for a blog.  The thing that I found so interesting in this is that this is not a text that I would think of turning to for particular comfort in a time of trial, and yet I thought the three sections actually were very appropriate.

Col 1:9-14 reminds us that Jesus has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light … an awesome truth.  We have great assurance in the Lord, and it starts by considering our worth only in respect to Christ.  That qualification will never be taken away.  The text reminds those of us who are still living to live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way. This is the hope of Sandy, of course.  To be in the presence of Jesus now, what greater desire could she have than to wish that those she loves would join her!

Colossians 2:5-8 talks about Paul being absent from his hearers in the body, which hits you really hard when you hear it seated 15 feet from a coffin, and the request to continue to live in him is all the more powerful, along with the warnings to not stray far from the truth.

Colossians 2:16-17 seems a little out of place, doesn’t it?  Don’t let anyone deceive you into believing that you can be saved by legalism, because the things we are pursuing in legalism are just shadows of the reality that is freely available to us in Christ.  Why is this relevant at a funeral?  Because right now, she is seeing the reality instead of the shadows!

Like I said, Colossians isn’t a book that I would usually think about turning to in a time of grief, but perhaps I should.  The promises of God are indeed sweet, and anywhere we can find them we get a powerful glimpse into just how heavenly Heaven is, and will be.


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