Homily At Ginny’s Funeral

Lessons From Ginny

Ginny’s Funeral Homily Delivered April 28th by Wesley Bassett

Ginny at her desk

Let us pray:

Most merciful Father, who hast been pleased to take unto thyself thy servant, Ginny; grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that having served thee with constancy on earth, we may be joined hereafter with thy blessed saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Let us pray:

Most merciful Father, who hast been pleased to take unto thyself thy servant, Ginny; grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that having served thee with constancy on earth, we may be joined hereafter with thy blessed saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

I have entitled the homily, “Lessons from Ginny”.

There is a story in the gospel accounts of a woman named Mary.  She came to a supper where Jesus was guest just a few days before he was arrested and crucified.  The guests were lying on the floor on mats around a low table, with their bare feet going outward away from the table as was the custom of the time .  Mary came behind Jesus and emptied a container of ointment called Nard on Jesus’ feet . It was very expensive.  It cost about one year’s pay.  She poured it on Jesus’ feet and spread it around with her long hair. When the other guests, especially Jesus’ disciples recognized the fragrance and knew what the woman had done, they were angered.  They complained that it was a waste of money.  “With that kind of money, we could have done something really big, something that would have gotten some notice.”

Jesus told them to leave her alone.  And then he said two things about Mary:

First: She has done what she could.

Second: Where ever my story is told in the whole world,  what she has done for me will be remembered.

I tried to think, in preparing this homily, how to summarize Ginny’s life, what she has taught us,  and how to relate to you here today what she wanted you to know about her faith in Jesus Christ.  

First I would like to talk about WHO Ginny was:

In summarizing Ginny’s life I thought of three things that I think describe the center and circumference of who she was.  

The first thing is a word from the Book of Common Prayer. In the prayer before the homily is the word is “constancy”.  We all who knew her observed that she, more than anyone I know, exhibited a constancy in her daily Christian walk.  The vicissitudes of life swirled around her, sometimes more and sometimes less, but her characteristic response to all of it was to trust the Lord, and continue forward doing the next right thing that came to hand.  She was thoroughly unobtrusive, she was not loud, she was private, she was almost invisible in her good-doing.  But the thing that was unmissable about her to those who observed her over time was that as a practicing Christian, she was constant.  Because she stood on the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ, she was steady.  Her constancy was a silent witness of her steadfast confidence in the trustworthiness of God. May we learn from Ginny the lesson of Christian constancy.

The second thing is Jesus’ statement about Mary, “She hath done what she could.”  

Like Mary, Ginny did what she could, and often she did it with very little to work with other than faith in God, a little optimism, and a heaping helping of imagination.  John says that she could take two eggs and a jar of maraschino cherries and make breakfast for ten people.  When I think about Ginny doing what she could in the name of Christ for people in need, I think of all the times John told me about Ginny using her accounting skills to rescue from misappropriation thousands and thousands of dollars intended to help children in Jacksonville.  

And I think about the time when she divided up the scarce Christmas toys she and John had gathered for their children, along with about half of their groceries for their Christmas feast, and gave them to a poor unwed mother who had no toys or food for her child.  And this woman then divided what was given to her with another unwed mother across the hall from her who had less than that.  Doing what she could resulted in two other families having a little Christmas when otherwise they would have had none.  And we know of numerous other times when Ginny did what she could, secretly, quietly, invisibly.  Over a lifetime, Ginny “doing what she could” has resulted in much good done to many people.

May we learn from Ginny to just  “do what we can” for Jesus, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant.  May we learn from Ginny to do for Jesus what we can.

Ginny makes it to the top

The third thing is Jesus’ statement that what Mary did would be told and remembered.  Most of the Apostles we know little about after the day of Pentecost.  They were the foundation stones of the Lord’s Church.  But most of them went to their work and almost nothing more is known of them in Scripture.  But little Mary . . . everyone who encounters the Good News about Jesus Christ eventually hears about what Mary did.  That which to hardened eyes and hearts was a waste of perfectly good money was to the knowing eyes and heart of our Lord the very best that a poor woman had to give.  And she gave all of it.  She even broke the expensive little bottle.  All for Jesus.

I think Ginny practiced her Christian constancy in doing what good she could for the same reason.  It was the best she had, it was all she had, and she gave it to Jesus, bottle and all.

May we learn from Ginny to give Jesus all we have. And may we live for Christ so that we will be remembered in a way that points those who remember us to and not away from Jesus Christ.

Now, that brings me to the second part, which is to try to answer the question, Why was Ginny like this?  What did she believe that directed her inner compass  to live this way?

The simplest and most direct way to explain Ginny’s Christian faith to you is by explaining what she said she believed.  In the Episcopal Church we recite the summary of the Christian faith as it is expressed in the Nicene Creed.  So allow me to briefly explain the major points of the Creed, and thus explain what  Ginny said she believed and thus why, I think, she lived as she did.

The first stanza of the creed is about God the Father.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible”

Ginny believed in the one eternal God who is both the cause and reason for everything else.

The second stanza is about Jesus, the eternal Son of God, who became a man in order to die for our sins. It goes on to say:

And I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the

Father; by whom all things were made.

This means that Jesus proceeded forth and came from the Father before all time, before all ages, before all worlds,before there was anything, and that he is of the same stuff as his Father, something like the way your child is of the same stuff as you are, even though he or she is a separate person from you.  Your child  is the same kind of being as you because he or she came out of  you.  In a similar but infinitely greater way, Jesus is the Son of God from all eternity, and a distinct and separate person from the Father and because he came from the Father and is of the same substance as his Father, he, in his own nature and substance, is God just as his Father in his own nature and substance is God.  The Son existed in intimate love and communion with his Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit from all eternity.  And he was the one whom his Father appointed to create all things that are created, and to redeem that creation when, through man, it fell into sin and corruption.  

Jesus, then, is the eternal Son of God and the Creator and the Redeemer.

Then it goes on to say:

That the Son of God, for us, and our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

This means that the eternal Son of God became a real man, born from a woman, in order to bring salvation, forgiveness and the promise of eternal life to us, Adam’s sinful, fallen children. The offer of Christ’s salvation is to all who hear it and believe it. It includes men, women and children.  It includes all of Adam’s family, the whole human race.  It includes all of us here today including Ginny.

The Creed continues and says the Son of God became a man for our salvation.  The Bible says that we are all guilty of committing crimes against God and his law.  We do it knowingly, suppressing the voice of our conscience.  We do it unknowingly because of our ignorance.  We sin by commission, doing those things we ought not to do, and by omission, not doing those things we ought to do.  And we are truly guilty before God.  The penalty for these crimes is death, both temporal and eternal.

As a sinless man, Jesus carried the sins of Adam and his whole family, the sins of the world, all of us here today, and paid the penalty of death in his bodily sacrifice on the cross as a substitute for all those of Adam’s race who will trust and believe in him for the forgiveness of sins.  Believing in Jesus as Savior, as Ginny did, brings forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and the promise of eternal life, all through Jesus Christ.  But, because he was the sinless Son of God, death could not keep hold on him.

The Creed says it this way:  And he was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures.

This is the most important part about what made Ginny Ginny.  It is the historicity of the facts about Jesus Christ.  The New Testament documents state that he was crucified under a particular known political figure; that he was certified dead by a professional executioner.  That he was buried in the customary way by known, named persons in a known  grave owned by a known public official, and that a Roman seal and a Roman guard were placed at the door of the tomb to prevent any tampering with the body.  And that he rose from the dead in such a way that he fulfilled what the Scriptures had said about him beforehand, and he appeared over a period of about six weeks to multiple eye witnesses who knew him to have been executed, including a group of about five hundred at one time.  Ginny did not believe these things just to believe something.  This is not faith in faith, or faith in something non-real and non-rational or fictional.  Our faith is rooted in fact and history that is verifiable in the same way that all historical fact is verifiable.

And that is the secret of Ginny’s constancy.  It was rooted in a real set of events and facts about Jesus Christ the Son of God and in the real, crucified, dead, buried, resurrected living Jesus Christ who is the subject of these events and facts.  And the risen Lord Jesus was Ginny’s living Lord, present with her in her every-day life.

Empty Tomb

The Creed goes on to say:

He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of the Father: and he shall come again to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And that we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come when Jesus returns at the end of time.

Ginny understood this means that Jesus is at the right hand of his Father in heaven, ruling and working all things good and bad, wonderful and catastrophic, so that they worked out for her ultimate good, the benefit of others and God’s glory.

She understood and believed that Jesus will come again in glory and raise from the dead all who trust in him to life eternal.

The daily presence of Christ with her, and this certain hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ was the core of Ginny’s constancy.  It is why she did not fear death.  She walked into her illness and all the way through it with exactly the same constancy she had before she got sick.  

When she found out that she had contracted a very rare form of cancer, she stated that she had won the lottery, just the wrong one.

She told her doctor that she was not afraid of dying, but that she resented that the process is such a nuisance.

Gin in hospital

So, what made Ginny what she was?  It was her living faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  And she made it clear that she wanted each of you to know that.  That’s why I told you.  

John, you have told me a number of times over the years that your marriage to Ginny has been one long, pleasant conversation.  I tell you on the authority of Jesus’ promises that Ginny’s death is not a period.  It is only a comma.  And that the conversation will resume in the not too distant future, in a better world, and it will be a conversation with no end.  O Death, where is thy sting; O Grave, where is thy victory?

Ginny-Celebrating-764904

This same Jesus who is Ginny’s Savior and Lord invites all to come to him in faith with the words, “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Hear the word of the Lord, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; for they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.”

He that raised up Jesus from the dead will also quicken our mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in us.”

I am now going to open the service for anyone to say what they would like regarding Ginny.  Then I will conclude the service after everyone is finished.

And now, as Christ our Savior hath taught us, we are bold to say:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

Unto Almighty God, we commend the soul of our sister departed, and we commit her body to the grave, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the earth and the sea shall give up all their dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in Jesus shall be changed, and made like unto his own glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

Let us pray.

Lord have mercy upon us.

Christ, have mercy upon us

Lord, have mercy upon us.

O merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Resurrection and the Life; in whom whosoever believeth, shall live, though he die; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in him, shall not die eternally; who also hath taught us, by his holy Apostle Saint Paul, not to be sorry, as men without hope, for those who sleep in him; We humbly beseech thee, O Father, to raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; that, when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him; and that, at the general Resurrection in the last day, we may be found acceptable in thy sight; and receive that blessing, which thy well-beloved Son shall then pronounce to all who love and fear thee, saying, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.  Grant this, we beseech thee, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer.  Amen

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen

Christmas-Cross

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheri Royal
    Nov 11, 2013 @ 12:02:26

    I started reading your posts because of the one about the Karpeles Museum and then I found the Memorial. What a wonderful testimony about life and death and Jesus Christ. Thank you.

  2. GAIL
    Feb 20, 2015 @ 13:30:36

    I just had to reflect.

  3. kirkwood young
    Jun 23, 2015 @ 16:05:39

    Hey John, Thanks for being a Good Friend and Neighbor. My condolences for the Home going of your wife. Living next to in in Rex’s house, You gave me hope, $$$ help, and encouragement.

    kirkwood and Sandra Young
    904-450-9485
    OrangePark Florida.

  4. Debi Tumlin Reeves
    Nov 02, 2015 @ 22:15:15

    I so think about Virginia and John so often, still today 11/02/2015. God blessed them with each other and their family also. Bless you all. Be safe and keep your faith.

  5. jwcowart
    Nov 26, 2015 @ 00:49:47

    Thank you Debi. I thank God daily for blessing us with them both and everything that they taught us about love, family and God. It is still tough. But we will get through it with faith and love.

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