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We began our service today with these words:

I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rm. 8:38-39)

What a glorious vision this is! In a world and in a life that exists between the extremes, the polarities, and the divisions that separate us from one another—east from west, height from depth, power from weakness, past from present from future, life from death—we are reminded that there is nothing now, and nothing ever that can separate us from God’s love. 

Full stop. 

Nothing we’ve done. Nothing we’ve said. Nothing we’ve thought. The questions we’ve asked. The anger we’ve felt. The times we’ve screamed at God or wondered if God is really there. Through it all, in it all, in spite of it all, God welcomes all. And God welcomes all of us. Each of us. Even the messy bits. Perhaps especially the messy bits. Because there is nothing about the world, nothing about us, that can separate us from the Love of God. 

Beloved, there is nothing that can separate us from this very real, very present love that meets us, right here, right now. This love that meets us in the midst of our joys and delights, our confusion and in deep sorrow, reminds us of the truth that we all-too-often forget. In the heart of God, you are beloved. You are enough. And there’s nothing that can ever change that. 

This afternoon we have gathered in our grief. In mourning. We gather today in remembrance. In some ways we have gathered to put the pieces back together. To pay attention to the ways in which our lives, and their lives—Bob’s life, and Ian’s life—fit together with ours. The ways in which we are somehow members of one another. In family. In community. In life and in death. 

We gather today in remembrance. In some ways we have gathered to put the pieces back together. But in other ways, we’ve come together in this service, in this ritual, in this liturgy, in this time and space, to give ourselves permission to do what the world doesn’t often make space for—to fall apart. To recognize and to name our loss. To recognize that life is different now. That life without Bob, that life without Ian will not be the same. 

We have gathered together in this time, from near and far, from a variety of life circumstances and experiences to mark this day. In loving memory of Ian. In loving memory of Bob. 

And we gather here today, in the blessed assurance that they are loved. That they are loved by those who have gathered here today. That they are loved by many unable to make their way. That they are loved by the Creator who gave them their very first breath. That they are loved by the Creator who knew them in the womb. That they are loved by the Creator who walked with them in life. The very same Creator who walks with them now in death. 

I’ve been thinking this week about all of these extremes. About birth and death and everything in between. 

I’ve been thinking about how when my kids were younger, I would read to them from a children’s  book called Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children. I wouldn’t have stopped, except I lent it to a friend in grief, and never got it back. As I was preparing for our time together this week, I thought, maybe it’s time to pick up a copy once again. Lifetimes is a book that walks children—and all of us, I suppose—through the realities of life and of death. 

“There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive,” the book reads. “In between is living. All around us, everywhere, beginnings and endings are going on all the time. With living in between. This is true for all living things: For plants. For people. For birds. For fish. For trees. For animals

We all have a beginning. We all have an ending. In between is living. 

In between is living. And this life is a gift, isn’t it? Life is a gift that each of us receive. A gift from the Creator, the one who made all things—who made us—in and for love. And throughout our lives, through ups and downs, through the constraints of circumstance—health, work, relationships—good times and bad—we are invited to embrace this gift and to use it. To bless one another. To bless the world. To offer the gift of life and living, the gift of who we are, our personality, our way of seeing, our way of being, to offer our gifts for the sake of others, and the world in which we live.

In the past few weeks, as I've found myself meeting with Linda and other members of the family. And again yesterday as we were preparing the church. I’ve been struck by the way in which each of them has spoken about Ian. I’ve been struck by the way in which each has spoken about Bob. 

With love and with care. With an acknowledgment of their humanity, in all their beauty and frailty, their quirks and predilections. But most of all, this sense that they knew who they were. And that they knew that they belonged. To themselves. To one another. To this community. And to the God who loves them.

It has been a real gift to me—even though I never had the chance to meet Bob or Ian—to hear about the ways in which they have faced the challenges of this life, the ways in which they confronted those challenges, embracing life, embracing the world, and embracing those who loved them.

And we’ve heard that this afternoon, haven’t we? In the wonderful Eulogy for Ian, delivered by Averie and Emma. In the way Julia and Eric remembered Bob. 

Their memories. Their tributes. Their love. For people they have loved. For people this community has loved. And no doubt these reflections sparked memories for you. Moments. Words. Glances. Actions. 

And so I want to give you this time. A moment of silence. A moment of personal remembrance. To put the pieces back together. To fall apart. Whatever you need. I want to offer you this time, in silence, to remember Ian. To remember Bob. To remember them in relationship with you, and the gifts they have left for you. The gifts they have left for us.

Perhaps it’s a memory. 

Perhaps it’s a story. 

A smile, a glance, or a word. 

An impression or sense of how they impacted your life in some way. 

What is the gift that they left for you? How has knowing them changed you in some way? What is it about them, in their beloved, complicated humanity that you have received as a gift? And what is it, in your own beloved, complicated humanity that you might pass along to someone else? Today. Later this week. In the weeks to come. 

Think about them. Hold onto that moment. Perhaps it’s something you’d like to write down, or share with another person downstairs after the service. But let it be a remembrance. Let their lives be a blessing. One that you carry. One that you cherish. One that carries you through the day. One that sends you out into the world to embrace life in a new way.


Today we gather in loving memory of these dear men. Of Ian Allen Maartman. Of Bob Allen Osmachenko. We gather to put the pieces back together. We gather to let ourselves fall apart. For we are here in each other’s company. In a place where we can choose to be brave. In a place we can choose to be weak. And we are here in the ever-loving arms of the One who called us beloved from the very beginning. And who reminds us of this truth right now. You are beloved of God, and nothing can change that. 

And so here we stand. Here we rest. In each others’ arms, and in the arms of God everlasting who promises us—with Bob, and with Ian—life everlasting.