Hidden Wealth — Wake Service Homily for Leonard Stewart, 80

Leonard Eugene StewartToday St. Paul’s Parish is pleased to open our church and offer our prayers at this wake service for Len, whom you know and love so well. No brief homily can capture the fullness of someone’s life. But I believe that aspects of a Christian’s life will contain images of Christian mysteries. Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God using images like captured fish, sprouting seeds, precious pearls, and other things as illustrations. Similarly, a particular part I learned about Len’s life—though surely not the most important aspect of his life—especially strikes me as an icon of important Christian truths.

After Len and Carolyn moved to Eau Claire to build their home and raise their children there, Len began a coin game machine business. He bought gaming machines and would service them for customers on his route. Len reasoned, “People will always have quarters.” But eventually, in 2008, Len started a similar but greater line of work. Len began managing ATM (automatic teller) machines. He was still working around many of his previous customers. Not being showy, he continued dressing like them, unassumingly; with frayed hems, holes at his knees, and a ratty hat atop his head. But now, instead of lugging heavy heaps of quarters, Len might be transporting many thousands of dollars. He was adept at hiding this great wealth. Len’s family tells me, “He could carry $30,000 and you’d never know it.” He looked like everybody else so people didn’t notice that he carried a treasure with him. As I said, this strikes me as an icon of important Christian truths.

Men and women are born into this world with heaps of blessings, many tokens of God’s goodness. But the Christian experiences a greater, richer life. The Christian might keep the same company as others; their dress and appearance might be unremarkable; but they carry with them a hidden wealth. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us,” St. John exclaims, “that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are! …Beloved, we are God’s children now.” The world might not notice the great treasure concealed in us, but this figures; they didn’t notice the greatness of Jesus the Son of God, either.

Though, as the psalm says, “man’s days are like those of grass; like a flower of the field he blooms; the wind sweeps over him and he is gone, and his place knows him no more,” Jesus reassures us in the face of death. He tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” Jesus has died and has gloriously risen, and he promises the same for us, his brothers and sisters, his friends. Jesus tells us, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places….I am going to prepare a place for you… and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” So, though it is natural to feel sadness on such a day as this, with the sadness we possess a joyful expectation, for Len and for ourselves: Jesus will always have quarters for us.

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