Sunday, June 2, 2019

Seventh Sunday of Easter

"I will make it known"

The Rev. Kealahou C. Alika

John 17:12-26

Until five years ago, Anne Hopkins and Marian Rees of Bainbridge Island, Washington would return to Maui for their annual visit. Years prior to the decline of Marian’s health, they both became Associate Members of our church and became a part of our church family.

Marian died on August 26, 2018. Anne emailed us in late March to say that it was Marian’s wish that her ashes be released into the ocean here in Mākena. Preparations were made and on the early morning of May 3, 2019, Anne released Marian’s ashes in the waters off Maluaka Beach, a short walk south along the beach road fronting the church.

The next day we gathered in this sanctuary to remember and celebrate the life of Robert Hobson of Kīhei, a longtime General Member of Keawala‘i. Family and friends gathered to honor Bob’s commitment to the ministry of this church.

Bob was a man of integrity. He was honest and he cared deeply about “doing things right.” Bob is buried at the Veterans Cemetery in Makawao.

We returned to this place on Friday, May 24, 2019 to place the ashes of Dick Walker of Palo Alto, California and Kīhei in our columbarium. Dick was born in 1932 in Puʻunēnē. He was a “Maui boy.” He died in December of 2018.

The following day, family and friends gathered in this sanctuary to say aloha to Fred Lulof of Kīhei, also a longtime General Member of the church who was born in Almelo, Holland in 1938. Following his retirement, he and his wife Reneé moved to Maui after having lived in other states across the U.S. and in other countries around the world. Fred’s brother, Zweitse and his wife Fiet, traveled from Holland to Maui for the service. His ashes are inurned with Reneé’s ashes in our columbarium.

Yesterday, it was time for us to remember and celebrate the life of June Richter of Kīhei. June died on May 1, 2019. Originally from Spokane, Washington both June and her husband Bill became active members of our church. Until the time of her death, she was our oldest living member. Family and friends shared their stories about June - some as family; others as friends.

During that period of time, there were two other services for friends of the church. Their ashes were released into the ocean.

Over the last year, we have also bid farewell to many others. But the last three weeks have been especially difficult. As different as Marian, Bob, Dick, Fred and June’s life stories were, what I quickly came to realize is this: We all share a common bond through the loss of loved ones.

Jamie Lawrence, a good friend of our church, knew June well from the days when she served as our church secretary, a deacon and the work we did in welcoming couples who wanted to be married in this church. Jamie was here yesterday to sing at June’s celebration.

One of the songs he sang included the following lyrics:

Oh, we never know were life will take us
I know it’s just a ride on the wheel.
And we never know when death will shake us
And we wonder how it will feel.
So goodbye my friend
I know I’ll never see you again
but the time together through all these years
will wipe away these tears.
It’s okay now . . .
Goodbye my friend.
Life’s so fragile and love’s so pure.
We can’t hold on but we try.
We watch how quickly it disappears.
And we never know why.
But I’m okay now.
Goodbye, my friend.
You can go now.
Goodbye, my friend.

Our reading from The Gospel According to John reminds us that every generation will find the prayer Jesus offers for the early disciples is one he also offers for us and for those in succeeding generations who have come to believe the good news of God’s love for the world (John 17:20). There are no distinctions between the first and subsequent generations of believers. There are only believers (Preaching Through the Christian Year C, Craddock, Hayes, Holladay & Tucker, Trinity Press International, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1994, Page 270).

He offers his prayer to God aware of his own impending death, perhaps concerned that in some ways that they and we would drift apart from one another because of the sorrow and overwhelming grief that comes from losing those we love. Jesus’ prayer is for the unity of all believers (Op. cit.).

It is a unity based not on a conformity to any religious doctrines or any political point of view. “The unity spoken of here is that which is informed by the unity of God and Christ” (John17:20-23). The line of continuity is clear: from God to Christ; from Christ to his apostles; from the apostles to the church of which we constitute as the body of Christ. John 17:20 (Op. cit.).

Of his relationship with God, Jesus prays: “The world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” It is that love that is at the heart of the unity for which Jesus prayed.

The song that Jamie sang yesterday also included a line which read, “I know I’ll never see you again.” As this Easter season comes to an end this year, let us hold fast to the Easter promise that there will come a time when we will see each other again – on the day of resurrection. Amen.

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