Prepared for His House — Funeral Homily for Cynthia “Cindy” Nazer, 64

Today, St. Paul’s Parish offers you our sympathies, our prayers, and the consolation of Jesus Christ. The parting that comes from death is naturally mournful. But it is our faith in Jesus Christ that allows us to mourn with hope. No funeral homily can capture the full mystery of a Christian life; all that Cindy has done, or all that Christ has done in her. But speaking with Steve, her husband, I learned a particularly interesting aspect of their life together I’d like to share with you.

Cindy always liked things made of wood, and one of her desires was to have a log-cabin home. So, in the 1980’s, Steve and Cindy began building one together midway between Bloomer and Chippewa Falls. They began with the garage. Steve says this was for practice. Better to make one’s mistakes on the garage than with the house. After that, they stored lots of lumber onsite there. The project also involved an barn in which their cut logs were dried for two years, purging them of unwanted water, to prevent them from later warping out of shape. Placing these heavy logs was an exacting process. Steve tells me that each log must be laid in place three times over to make sure they fit properly, along with shaving, trimming, and cutting of the logs all throughout the process. But once perfected in this way, these logs became the home where Cindy and Steve and their family lived together. It was her home through their marriage together until her final day on earth.

This building of a house to share in marriage has a connection to our Gospel today. In Jesus’ time and culture, when a Jewish groom married his bride, he would go off to build or prepare the space of their home. It would typically be an extension upon his own father’s house. And once this long and demanding project was complete, the husband would return to his bride and take her into their new home to share their lives together. This is why Jesus says to his disciples, and tells us, his bride the Church:

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.

Jesus is the bridegroom and we, the Church, are his bride. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me… Where I am going you know the way.” But this last remark causes St. Thomas alarm, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” And Jesus answers, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” What does the way of Jesus look like? What does the life of Christ look like? This is the truth in Jesus Christ: for the faithful one, after much suffering, comes death, but this dying is not the end, it is not utter destruction, for this life is followed by new life and resurrection.

Therefore,” as St. Paul writes “we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison… For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

Like those logs chosen, refined, and fitted for the log cabin, God uses the events of our lives, the good moments and the bad, to make us ready for his home. “Chastised a little,” the Book of Wisdom says, “they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.

The parting of a loved one may ache our hearts, but our sufferings are not without hope, or meaning, or purpose. Through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus, the Savior of the world, the prayer of the psalmist can be beautifully fulfilled for Cindy, for others, and ourselves – which is the fulfillment of all our longings:

There is one thing I ask of the Lord;
only this do I seek:
To dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life.
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord
and contemplate his temple.

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