Jan Charney

Sermon by Canon Clifford Carr
At the private requiem liturgy and committal for the family
Trinity Easton, April 2, 2017

[A memorial and celebration of Jan's life, open to the community, will be held at Trinity Easton on Saturday, April 22 at 2:00 p.m.]


And so through all the length of days thy goodness faileth never:
Good Shepherd may I sing thy praise within thy house for ever.

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They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water....."

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She was nourished with your body and blood,
grant her a place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.  

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The hour is coming and now is,
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

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   These words of scripture, hymn and prayer are words of promise and hope .... words of homecoming and welcome. At a time of death and sadness they speak to us of the hope that is ours as the People of God. They assure us that we have a share in the eternal life of God, in that place where the shepherd knows us by name and where we will join with the angels & archangels and all the company of heaven to sing the praises of God.

   We hear, sing and pray words like this at the time of death because we Christians believe that life is not ended in death. We believe that Jan's life continues in a new form in a new place, for although the body has died, her spirit has been born again into a glorious and wonderful life - a life that we will share with her one day, for not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

   The Prayer Book is quite clear in saying that what we do here this afternoon is an Easter liturgy. We wear white vestments, the Easter candle, which is lit at every baptism, burns now to symbolize the Risen Christ who scatters the darkness of sin and death. When Janet was baptized, the life of the Risen Christ was poured into her soul, she was anointed by the Holy Spirit and filled with the Spirit's gifts which would help and guide her throughout her earthly journey. From that moment, she belonged to Christ. And now she has traveled long and well through this part of her life and she has been raised up to her eternal home.  

   "We are an Easter People, and Alleluia is our song!" There's no doubt that Jan lived an "Easter Life" - she knew a lot about death, resurrection and new life, after having been in recovery for almost 37 years.... as someone passionate about gardening, she had faith that those dead bulbs and bare branches, those seeds sown, would come to life with the returning spring.

"Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
love lives again, that with the dead has been:     
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green."

   Those words of an English poet set to the music of a 15th century French carol were favorites of Jan, and yet one more way she shared her Easter Faith with us. For her the mature grain in the sheaf of wheat was a direct symbol of the Resurrection: the life beyond the grave, the fulfillment of the baptismal promise.

   In our youth, Jan, Dan & I were formed and nurtured in our faith by the hymns of the Hymnal 1940, and I remember one hymn which was always sung at funerals, but which did not make it into the current hymnal. "Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand." -- the third verse began with these words which have stayed with me for more than 60 years: "O then what raptured greetings on Canaan's happy shore, what knitting severed friendships up, where partings are no more...." I'm looking forward to that - and of course I also expect rare roast beef & good scotch along with a grand organ of many ranks! Just think of the noisy reunion there has been with Jan and all those who have gone before her as she now takes her place in the heavenly choir.

   The question, of course is, will she sing alto or tenor?

   At any rate, she will celebrate the Easter feast at a different table and on a distant shore in a place prepared for her from the moment of her baptism. In baptism we are marked and sealed as Christ's own forever - that's a long time. ... far longer than 78 years. Eternity is a reality - God delivers - it's letting go at this end that's tough - the rest is a snap!

   On an occasion such as this, I once heard her say that there are people who "stand on the God-ward side" of us ... People who help us see what God's love is all about. ... That God's love is for everyone. That's God's love is to be celebrated – that God's love is about being an "Alleluia people" – that God's love is about living life to the fullest – enjoying the gifts of God: Good music, good food, good works ... good giving & living.

   Jan was one of those people for many of us.

   Dan, Beth, Kira & David – you and those close to you will hear many things about this special woman in the days and weeks to come – things that you know and things that are perhaps a surprise. In the hearing and telling of these stories you will be reminded that she was someone who lived out her love for God and for you as best as she was able. In all of this you will not only remember her, but you will also learn something of the power, grace, hospitality and generosity of God. It is Jan's continuing gift to you.  

   May she Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!

Jane Ballantyne Teter – A Celebration of her Life and Ministry

Sermon by Archdeacon Richard I Cluett
January 28, 2017
Nativity Cathedral, Bethlehem

Jane Teter
This has been very hard – trying to capture the faith and the life – the essence of a beloved friend and sister I have known for 40 years. But here is where I have come to this morning.

Because of her firm and uncluttered faith in the God who created her and loved her, Jane Ballantyne Teter was one audacious and tenacious woman. Just ask her kids. Just ask me.

I first met Jane in the late 1970’s when she was beginning to discern that she was be called by God to the priesthood. That was an audacious act, in and of itself – to think that she could and would be called by God to be a priest, this young-ish widow of a priest and the mother of three kids. What an audacious idea back in those days when the ordination of women was recently authorized and certainly not the norm and not accepted by many,

But once that call was affirmed in her heart and soul, she was tenacious in pursuit of it. Willing to endure institutional hurdles, the skepticism of others, managing family life, work life, and seminary studies, to be the person God created her to be, working as hard as she had ever worked. It took a lot, it cost a lot and by God she got there. Thanks be to God.

You all might not think of Jane as audacious and tenacious, but in her own quiet way she was indeed. How else could she have lived with the untimely death of her husband Edgar, raised and educated three wonderful and diverse kids, worked full-time, and made her way in the world and the church with such Grace and commitment. Audacity and Tenacity.

She built a life with her family at the center, certainly her kids, Deb, Ned, and Laurie, and then their families, and always caring for her beloved twin brother Robert and his family across the country, and her grandparents and aunts and others I do not know about.

She was the keeper and sometimes the Sheriff of family traditions. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter and the annual summer weeks spent at the camp on the lake in the Adirondacks. These were pretty much nonnegotiable for Jane and so for her family, and she would sacrifice and go to some lengths to see that they happened and were opportunities for celebration in her family.

We all knew about her mystery novels, 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, and her love for her dogs – even though she carped about them from time to time – and her knitting, always knitting. Sweaters for family, blankets for babies, and wool caps, scarves, and mitten for seafarers, and more. That one she spread throughout the diocese.

Indeed as her health began to fail, it was her Deb and Laurie and Ned who became the keeper of the traditions, who saw that these family events and times always happened. I know, perhaps better than they do, how much she loved them and how proud she was of them.

When I was rector of St. Margaret’s Church in Emmaus, it was my pleasure and privilege (and a bit my conniving, too, as chair of the Commission on Ministry) to have Jane come to St. Margaret’s as a seminarian intern, then stay on as assisting deacon and priest. She was ordained priest in the church named for Queen Margaret of Scotland, the patron of the Church in Scotland. How fitting was that for a woman in the family and clan of Ballantyne?

As a priest in a time when the ordination of women was still a new idea for some, viewed with skepticism by others, and denied altogether by some others, Jane’s audacious faith and tenacity took her into many, many parishes of this diocese to give people the chance to experience and come to know a woman in holy orders. By celebrating and preaching as a visitor on Sundays, by being willing to be interviewed by search committees whether or not she was interested in a move to a parish, serving as a consultant to parish leadership, she demonstrated the fullness of the ordained ministry to those who had never experienced it or even knew it was possible.

She exercised a special ministry as mentor, model, and wise woman for many women, especially, as they came into the ordained ministry of the church

Her ministry as priest, pastor, spiritual guide, mentor and friend was a gift to so many and she is loved to this day for it. Just look at the comments on the diocesan Facebook page testifying to her gifts, life, and ministry.

Serving in parishes as assisting priest, interim rector, vicar and eventually, as Edgar her husband had before her, serving as a canon to the bishop, she touched and enhanced the lives of so many of us.

Small parishes were a special love and concern for Jane and she advocated for their care and wellbeing in the councils of the diocese and beyond in the councils and General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

Even as her health declined, she took on a ministry of care for the retired clergy and widowed spouses of our diocese with prayer, greeting cards, phone calls, birthday remembrances and advocacy, never forgetting anybody.

Jane was “Never Quit Jane”. If it was important to do, then it was important to do it. Right up to the end. Dying, still a member of the bishop’s staff, carrying out this unique and important ministry at the age of 79.

You may have noticed that the scriptures today are not meant for Jane. They are meant for us, for those who have loved her and will always miss her –and may need the reminder, the reassurance that she has entered into the bright light of God’s love, into eternity, into the blessed company of the saints. She knew all these things deep I her heart and soul, and when it came time to contemplate passing from this life into eternity, she just set her face to it and went about it.

That is a gift to her family, and that is her gift to the rest of us. There is no need to live - or die - in fear. We are in the love and care of God all the day long, even and especially “when the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done” – even as we are passing from this life to the next.

I want to leave the last word to Hillary Raining, another priest ordained from Trinity Church, Bethlehem. Hillary posted this on our Facebook page: “Jane was a mentor and a friend to me. One of the greatest honors of my life was interviewing several first generation women priests in DioBeth, including Jane, to capture their pioneering stories. Jane taught me so much in that interview and this has prompted me to take the transcripts off the shelf today to read them. In her own words, Jane told me to always, “claim the good that you are doing so that others will feel empowered to do the things they might not know they can do. That will be how God works through you.”

Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. And this is how God worked through Jane. And now, dear friend, may you rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

The Rev. Canon Jane Ballantyne Teter

Jane Teter

The Rev. Canon Jane B. Teter died on January 17 after a long struggle with cancer.

At the time of her death, she was serving on the bishop's staff as chaplain to retired clergy and their spouses. During her career, Canon Teter served in many parishes in the diocese and was the founding vicar of St. Brigid's, Nazareth.

She was ordained in 1983, just a few years after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood. As a layperson she was an active leader in Cursillo and a member of Trinity Church, Bethlehem.

On Wednesday, the Rev. Dr. Hillary D. Raining said, "She was a mentor and a friend to me. One of the greatest honors of my life was interviewing several first generation women priests in DioBeth including Jane to capture their pioneering stories. Jane taught me so much in that interview and this has prompted me to take the transcripts off the shelf today. In her own words, she told me to always, 'claim the good that you are doing so that others will feel empowered to do the things they might not know they can do. That will be how God works through you.' Thank you, Jane. May she rest in peace and rise in glory."

In announcing the news on Facebook, Archdeacon Rick Cluett said, "Jane's dying and death were consistent with her life; powered by her faith, strength, and determination, and her deep love and care for her family. Her life and ministry touched so many in our diocese as both layperson and priest ... Well, done, Jane, very well done. May she now rest in peace and rise in glory."

Canon Teter is survived by her children Deb, Laurie, and Ned and their families. Her funeral will be Saturday, January 28 at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Friends may call from 10-11 a.m.


[Bill Lewellis] Beyond being a longtime colleague, Jane was a faithful friend whom I loved and with whom I loved to banter. One of my fond remembrances resulted in four words that captured the meaning of Eucharist: Today, we remember tomorrow.

On September 13, during the late '90s, before celebrating Eucharist at Diocesan House, Jane offered an explanation. We would use the readings and prayers of the next day, the Feast of the Holy Cross. She got caught up in a circular explanation. She escaped with, “So, today we remember tomorrow.”

The words sang in my head. I wanted to applaud. It's tomorrow, Jane. It's tomorrow.


OBITUARY – Jane B. Teter, born in Schenectady, New York, was the daughter of Thomas and Esther (Klapper) Ballantyne. She was the wife of the late Rev. Lloyd Edgar Teter, Jr. who she married in 1956. Jane attended William Smith College in Geneva, New York and later Earned a Master of Divinity degree from Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem.

In 1983, Jane was one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem and served as a trailblazer and mentor for those women who followed. Jane began her ordained ministry as deacon at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Emmaus, where she later served as Interim Rector. Jane was active throughout the diocese and at several parishes including Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem and later at St. Brigid's Episcopal Church, Nazareth, where she was the founding vicar. For the last 20+ years, Jane served on the Staff of the Bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem in a variety of roles, most recently as the Bishop's Assistant for Retired Priests and Spouses, a position she held until her death.

Jane was an accomplished knitter and an avid fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Although Jane resided in Bethlehem for nearly 50 years, Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains always held a special place in her heart.

Survivors: Jane is survived by her three children: Deborah J. Termini (Robert), Whitehall, PA, L. Edgar Teter, III "Ned" (Linda), Lancaster, PA and Laura B. Teter (Richard Kesling), Bethlehem, PA and three grandchildren: Matthew Neas, Christopher Teter and Kaitlin Termini. She is predeceased by her twin brother, Robert.

Services: Funeral Services will be held Saturday, January 28, 2017 at 11:00 am at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA. Calling will be from 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. in the church. Contributions: In lieu of flowers contributions may be sent to The Soup Kitchen at Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 E. Market Street, Bethlehem, PA, 18018.

Online condolences may be recorded at pearsonfh.com.

Memorial Service for Dolores Caskey/Sermon

Sermon by T. Scott Allen
Trinity Bethlehem – May 23, 2105

In the name of God who says “I am the Resurrection and the Life”   AMEN

It is not very often that one gets to be the preacher at the Burial Office of a woman as remarkable, complicated, intelligent and amazing as Dolores White Caskey. In fact, I have dreaded having to write the epitaph for a person who had the impact on me and her world that Dolores had because whatever I say I will most likely forget a detail, a good work, an amazing speech, a kind act, an important contribution of a life lived very well. 

And while my background is as a journalist, my occupation of the last 30 plus years has been as an Episcopal priest, so while my reporter instinct wants to report “the facts” and not miss one, my heart says that we all stand here this afternoon as witnesses of what a life lived with grace, gusto and yes, at times, guts, looks like.

 I don’t know when I first met Dolores. I expect it was sometime in the early Spring of 1989. I had just joined the Bishop’s Staff as Social Missioner and she served on the Jubilee Committee which was the name of the Diocesan Social Justice Committee at the time. Dolores and I took an instant like to one another for which to this day I am thankful. Dolores didn’t suffer fools gladly and I would never want to be on the “outs” with her. We disagreed on some occasions, but we both knew the other’s heart and couldn’t stay cross with one another very long. We knew we were acting out of the same love of the same Lord who redeemed us.

No matter where you knew Dolores I can say that all that she did emanated from a deep faith in a God who is manifested in self-giving love. This faith did not express itself in saccharine piety, but in incarnational acts of justice, truth, mercy and love. Her faith had a very real social expression for the poor, the marginalized, the unfairly treated and the helpless.

The lessons we just heard are most fitting for a saint such as Dolores.  “To everything a season and a purpose under heaven”.

She took everything in stride and even in defeat did not back down from her principles. She was a non-anxious presence when emotions were high and more smoke than light was being generated in any debate or discussion---she was part of our Church’s controversies. For her, everything did have its time and season, but truth, justice and mercy did not. Articulate, she didn’t shy away from eating your lunch when an important principle was at stake.

Dolores met her beloved husband, Jim, in the Air Force and they were both veterans and later will rightfully be laid to rest together in Arlington National Cemetery. As Jim told the story, Dolores worked in the office of a high ranking officer and she had come to his office on some official business where she asserted her rank with Jim’s secretary. Thinking Dolores had left the office, Jim made some smart comment about Dolores which she heard as she left the room and turned back on her heels and reminded Jim of who she was and whom she worked for! As Jim told it, his secretary was a shy, timid woman who one would have thought was a slight woman. Dolores would laugh at this story when Jim told it and said “Jim, your secretary was not this defenceless little person! She could have gone bear hunting with a switch!” This was just one of what I call “Dolores-isms”.

When speaking of a local politician a few years ago she said, “You ask him the time and he tells you how to build a watch!”Dolores was greatly committed to Northeast Ministry located in the Marvine-Pembroke village and she spoke one of my favorite stories about a time when drug dealing and use was an especially chronic problem on the streets of this housing project. Someone got the idea of a parade through the streets of Marvine-Pembroke to provide a counter-point to the drug dealers and support recovery and health for the residents. In order to send an anti-drug message to residents and the drug addicted of that area. Her co-board member was Victoria (Lala) Leach who was a member of the Nativity Cathedral. Lala had a yellow Cadillac convertible and Dolores and Lala rode in the parade in that car. Dolores laughed as she said, “I can’t imagine what the people thought of us in this parade.  Probably something like—“O look! Those two old ladies got off the stuff and now they have a Cadillac!”

Always well put together (I rarely remember her wearing pants in public—always a dress, jewelry and make-up—even when at the Soup Kitchen!), Dolores always had the Oasis of her weekly Friday hair appointment. The day she died I happened to arrive at Dolores’s room at Moravian Village Health Center 5 minutes after her passing. As I gazed upon her lifeless body, the chaplain whispered, “Isn’t it great that the nurses aide ran in and put lipstick on her?” And sure enough, her lips were bright pink! It was great, and I can imagine Dolores somehow beholding the scene and finding great humor in it, but also a great corporal act of mercy in that act!

Dolores was a good Democrat as well. And it was because of Dolores’s advocacy with me that I switched my primary vote from Hillary Clinton to Barak Obama. We both loved John Stewart and would call each other the morning after a show and laugh about his report, but only momentarily as the issues he addressed were ones that had substance and legs. 

I missed Dolores this past Tuesday when I was faced with my ballot in the primary. I counted on Dolores to give me good names to vote for in local elections and would always take (what I called) “Dolores’s List” (not to be confused with Emily’s List) into the polls on more than one occasion. As the first and scandalously only (to this day, by the way) woman President of Bethlehem City Council (ladies, you have some work to do!). Dolores once was quoted as telling the press, “Well, Bethlehem may be the Christmas City, but city council is NOT Santa Claus!”

Dolores was parsimonious. She didn’t believe that throwing lots of money at a problem necessarily solved it. She believed in balanced budgets, living within your means, and when you spend money, it had to count to relieve misery in people’s lives. This did not mean she was not generous. She supported people, causes and candidates with cash. Real money. And was generous in her support of causes she believed in and thought made a difference.

I once was Dolores and Jim’s chauffer to a rally for presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry at Allentown Fair Grounds and they would not let Jim in with his ever present little pocket knife, which I recall dutifully taking back to my car and re-joining them after we were disarmed.

I have to tell you, I will miss that “Greatest Generation” commitment to integrity in all aspects of life. I mourn the passing of that generation as I believe they were one of extreme integrity, fairness, not afraid of uphill battles and self-giving of themselves for people, movements and projects that enhanced fairness and community. They were biased toward the underdog. We Baby Boomers are poor imitators of their example.

Dolores had the tenacity of a journalist when seeking information and had an eye and a memory for important and often missed detail. She served as an advisor to diocesan publications and served many years as the Consumer Reporter at the Globe-Times in Bethlehem. One apocryphal story about that job––when she first arrived at the Globe-Times she pretended that she couldn’t type in order to be assigned a secretary to do it! 

Things I recall Dolores loved:

• Chocolate and sweets of any kind, I always took them a cut of my Christmas baking in her latter years.

• Animals—dogs, cats, squirrels, even a mouse that took up residence in a storage closet off of their patio in their Moravian Village apartment and refused to let the management know of this rodent’s presence. She delighted in watching him and put nuts and seeds out for him. She also fed birds. I made sure my miniature schnauzer, Martini, visited Dolores and Jim often—her last visit with Dolores was near Christmas Eve of last year.

• She loved the beach and seashore and after Jim died got her aide to drive her there. That may have been her last visit.

• She loved breakfast at Jenny’s Luncheonette before it was razed to make way for a new access to the Hill-To-Hill bridge—and tipped her waitresses handsomely.

• She loved the poor, the underdog, the rejected for no fault of their own and anyone being given a raw deal by government, church or social structures.

• She loved the 1928 Prayer Book AND the 1979 revision and both were near her whenever I visited. She liked the confession in Morning Prayer, and the Prayer for Humble Access. She prayed.

She had her dislikes as well:

• She disliked hypocrisy, privilege which blinded to human need. Using the phrase “greedy geezers” to describe some of her peer’s attitude toward discounts, Social Security, Medicare and other benefits.

• She disliked using more medical care than she thought was warranted for people “living on an expired warranty” as she and Jim would say.

(I am sure you can share others with me later in the parish hall as there are hundreds of ways she impacted and inspired all of us)

 So what is the take away for us that she leaves behind? What is it that is for us in this room this afternoon? 

I believe one of the take aways is that Christian faith can take us to places we never thought we’d be. It can put us in partnership with people very different from us. We are convicted by the witness of her life that our actions should reflect our commitments. Her work for anti-racism is exemplary, she served on the first HIV-AIDS Task Force of the Diocese in the early 90’s and served on a board to develop a personal care home for persons living with HIV-AIDS. Before a plethora of Spanish Speaking interpreters, she would be the middle person to translate for the courts when a Spanish speaking defendant appeared before a Northampton County judge.

There are no outcasts, save the well-funded and privileged who have hard hearts toward the perceived outcast. But even they can repent and be welcomed back.

She saw the blessedness in all of the things we try mightily to insulate ourselves from—mourning, being peacemakers, poverty of life and spirit, mercy, hungering for justice and an even playing field; and putting ourselves on the line for it (even when it means rejection and vilification).

She taught me how to age. To never disengage from life and justice seeking, no matter what your age or physical capability. Always get the news and talk about it!

I hope we can all take comfort and challenge in the life Dolores exemplified. And Michael, David, Robert, Mimi,  you and your offspring can look to her as an example for your own lives and be inspired by how she inspired many of us!

Scott Holland a 19th Century Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University wrote the following which I think a fitting last word today, and one I know Dolores would probably affirm:

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched and unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is dath but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind just because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well.  All is well.

Dolores, my good friend, you have finished the race, you have competed very well. And I am certain that you will receive the crown of glory reserved just for you! 

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

[The Rev. T. Scott Allen is rector of St. Andrew's Allentown.]


Sermon by Canon Kitch at the funeral of Marilyn Croneberger

A Celebration of the Life of Marilyn Croneberger
Christ Church, Reading PA

A sermon preached by The Rev. Canon Anne E. Kitch
January 4, 2014

There is no getting around the fact that today is difficult. We gather today to celebrate life—in particular the life of Marilyn Cronberger. There is indeed much to celebrate. But it would be wrong, and a kind of a lie, not to acknowledge that this celebration takes place in the midst of grief.

The landscape of grief is somewhat like the desert (or a winter blizzard). When the wind blows, the sands shift and the terrain changes. It can look and feel different from day to day, or even hour to hour. Under such circumstances, it is easy to lose our way. No person’s grief is the same as another’s. And not only is grief different for each person, it’s changing topography can be unfathomable for any individual.

Regardless of how we approach grief—whether we try to circumnavigate it, and perhaps some find this necessary and successful; or face it head on, bowing into the gale forces and forging ahead; or wander in the midst of it, opening ourselves to both its ravages and light caresses—neither it nor the power it works on us can be completely avoided. We are changed by grief. And what most of us find so difficult about change is the fear of loss.

But what is true about a life in Christ is that we know that we do not travel alone…ever. Even when it comes to grief and sorrow and pain, God has been there before us. So we do not travel without hope, and we do not travel without love. Clearly, Marilyn traveled with love.

Forty-­‐eight years ago, in the Church of the Good Shepherd in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Marilyn and Jack pledged their love to one another. They promised, that forsaking all others, they would choose to be faithful to one another. And so they have, making loving choices over and over again. In the current marriage rite in the Episcopal Church, these words are prayed over the newly married couple:

Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful  and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement,  forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.  (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 429)

These words were not yet in use when Marilyn and Jack were married, but Marilyn and Jack had such a marriage. The love they shared with each other did not remain a private thing. Rather it radiated, so that their life together became a sign of Christ’s love. Their love added love to the world. Look around this church today and see the evidence of their love. Look how it has multiplied.

 You do not need to be long in the presence of any part of Jack and Marilyn’s family to know this love. Together they raised five children who are kind hearted, who care for others and look to make the world a better place, who love their parents, are willing to struggle with difficulty, and who laugh well. In turn, Amber, Judy, Rebecca, Tim and Jen, along with their partners and spouses and children, have chosen to add to the good in the world.

Marilyn’s love was evident in her inspired leadership of Cursillo in the Diocese of Bethlehem and the Diocese of Newark. It was apparent in her commitment to justice by founding a PFLAG chapter. It was obvious in the hospitality she loved to lavish so beautifully on friend and stranger alike, and in her ability to welcome others. Her children’s friends still speak of that welcome and even the friends of her grandchildren were not excluded from her exuberant embrace in recent years.

The gifts of love and faithfulness that Marilyn nourished year after year were so great that even when adversity hit full force she continued to build on her legacy of service to God and others. The welcome that is part of Marilyn’s legacy is surely a reflection of the love of Christ. Jesus promises to welcome anyone who comes to him and Jesus promises us that nothing is lost, “Anyone who comes to me, I will never drive away,” proclaims the Savior of the world, and it is God’s will “that I should lose nothing of all that God has given me.” (John 6:37-­‐40)

This is the promise: that nothing will be lost. There is no place we can be, where Christ is not. Nothing is lost.

Clearly the love Marilyn had for the world, for Jack, for her children and grandchildren, has not been lost. But it is more than that. In God’s economy, her voice has not been lost, her soul has not been lost, her laughter has not been lost. “I shall lose nothing of all that God has given me,” promises Jesus, “I will raise them up on the last day.” This is the promise we hold on to now as we celebrate the life of Marilyn—that she is already partaking in the resurrected life of Jesus. We can imagine her not just being at the banquet table in the heavenly court, but hosting the event.

And this is also the promise that we grasp for ourselves: that we too are God’s beloved. Our lives, our voices, our laughter, our struggles and tears, our grief and our joy, are all precious to God. We too share in the promise of the resurrected life in Christ. There is a place for each of us at the banquet table—and Marilyn is there already, waiting to welcome us.