“But We Are Here”
Funeral Service: Elaine Floy
Rev. Todd Buegler
September 17, 2016
Trinity Lutheran Church
Grace and peace to you from God our Creator, and from Jesus, the Son of God, who is the resurrection! Amen.
I’m just going to go ahead and say what I think many of us have been thinking for the last week or two: “We shouldn’t be here today.” We shouldn’t. This doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t make sense. We shouldn’t be here today. But we are.
We shouldn’t be here today because Elaine Floy should be at home, writing a note to her daughters, or working in the garden, or cooking a meal. We shouldn’t be here today. But we are.
We shouldn’t be here today because Elaine should be where she often was when memorial services like this took place. She’s on one of our funeral serving volunteer teams. She should be in the kitchen, serving food, welcoming people with her smile, listening to them talk about their loved ones, listening with her whole heart. Serving them. We shouldn’t be here today. But we are.
We shouldn’t be here today because Elaine should be out running. I’d see her out, running along 26th street because she believed in being healthy. And as she ran, she’d be carrying a garbage bag, and be picking up the trash and the pop cans along the road, because she believed in caring for God’s creation. And as if that’s not enough, she’d take those collections of pop cans and bring them to the recycling dumpster at church to raise money for the youth group, because that what she did. We shouldn’t be here today. But we are.
We shouldn’t be here today because this is unexplainable. Elaine was healthy. She was a runner. She ate healthy…and she was a wife…a mother of two amazing young women…a daughter, a sister, a friend…and so much more. And that something like this would happen doesn’t make any sense. But here we are.
We are here to remember, and to tell and hear stories; stories about Elaine and who she was. About her life, her love and her faith. And we are here to celebrate. I know that it can be hard to think about celebration at a time like this…but as people of faith, we know that there has been a promise that has been fulfilled. And that is worth joy, even in the midst of our sorrow.
What will you remember about Elaine? In the past couple of weeks, since Elaine’s stroke, I’ve heard story after story about how Elaine would pour herself into others. The other person was always first. And oddly enough, I’ve noticed a theme. Most of these stories involved food. Elaine loved food. Literally. She studied it. She was a food sciences major in college.
But she didn’t love it just for the sake of the food itself, or because she loved to prepare, and she loved to cook. She loved that with food, she could communicate love…and care…and hospitality.
I heard a story this week about Jane, a member of our congregation who stopped in to Kwik Trip, and Elaine was working behind the counter. And as she did with so many people, Elaine struck up a conversation. (I suspect that with Elaine, a lot of good ministry took place from behind the counter at Kwik Trip.) Well this woman was headed home, it was her husband, John’s birthday. John had health issues and was pretty home-bound. Elaine asked Jane if she needed anything else. “Well, not unless you carry cake!” Jane said. You see, she’d run to the bakery, but it was closed. “Well, what kind of cake?” A birthday cake…he likes the kind with lemon frosting. “I’ll make him a cake!” Elaine said. Jane sort of laughed this off, and said thanks, and made her way home.
That evening, at about 5 o’clock, to Jane’s shock, Elaine showed up at her house, and delivered a birthday cake…with lemon frosting. Just because she could.
But that’s not all. After Elaine had gotten off of work, she had called Zinash, an 8th grader in Trinity’s confirmation program. Elaine was her mentor. And Elaine said: “I’m going to make a birthday cake for a friend. Do you want to come over and help me make it?” So Zinash came over and the two of them made it, and then delivered it together. This became not only a gift for Jane and her husband, but an opportunity to spend time with Zinash…and for Zinash to participate in the creation of a beautiful gift. It’s just what Elaine did.
One day, Elaine called up Cathy, one of our leaders in our Meals of Hope program that serves meals to folks in need on Sunday nights, and said “Kwik Trip has some cookies that are going out of date and we’re going to have to throw. Can we give them to Meals of Hope?” Well sure! So Cathy drove over to Kwik Trip, expecting to pick up a couple of bags of cookies. There, Elaine had stacked up containers, totaling 60 dozen cookies. They barely fit in the back of Cathy’s car. We were feeding cookies to Meals of Hope and our other food ministries for weeks. It’s what she did.
I know that when my own family moved to Owatonna two years ago, it was a pretty turbulent time. Everything was new…half of our lives were still in boxes…we were just trying to figure everything out. And sometime in that first 10 days we were here, Elaine called, and invited us over for dinner. It was this amazing meal, and great conversation, and lots of laughter, and then we all played board games. And…we felt at home. and welcomed. It’s just what she did.
The stories of how Elaine poured her love into others have been piling up. I’ve heard so many more stories than I can tell here.
But there was nothing that she was more proud of, nothing that she loved to talk about more…her family. Paul, you were her other half. You two complimented each other so well. Ying, to the other’s yang. And we all loved watching how much the two of you loved each other.
And Martha and Sarah, I would talk to your Mom on a Sunday morning, and I’d ask her, just in casual conversation, “so how are the girls?” Now with most people, you’d get something like “they’re doing great!” But your Mom…she would smile wide, and her eyes would get intense, you know like they did…she would tell me what you were working on…where you were traveling…what you’d experienced …what you’d seen. Your lives, they were her life. She loved discovering the world, through the things you were doing. And she was so proud of what you were accomplishing. And she just loved being with you. Sometimes her eyes would light up and she’d say “they’re coming home this weekend!” Martha and Sarah: Your Mom loved you so much. And I hope you recognize, that we see your Mom in you. You carry her spirit within you. Never forget that.
And most importantly, we never forget today that On March 20, 1966, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Albert City, Iowa, Elaine received the promises of God in the waters of Holy Baptism. And from that moment on, she was a child of God. I so admired Elaine’s faith. It was so strong.
Elaine knew that the love of Jesus was real. And she lived, boldly and confidently, wrapped within that love.
The Good Samaritan Story that we heard this morning tells of a willingness of one to step outside the expectations that we are frequently bound to. It is about love, not law. It’s about the other…not the self. This is how Elaine lived. This is what we can remember, and learn from her life. From her first breath, to her lst, Elaine was a child of God, loved beyond measure, and a loving servant.
Remembering is good. Remembering is a way that keeps her close to us.
Today, remembering is also very painful. We cannot add to these memories anymore. They have been cut off, because our relationship with Elaine in this world has ended.
To say that is to be honest. You have a mixture of feelings that need to be recognized. But that is not all that needs to be said. For the rest we need to look to God; To God who created us and preserves our lives. He sent his son to us, allowed him to experience death as we do, and then raised Jesus from the dead. Because he lives, Elaine lives. Because he lives, we too shall live.
Your grief will not go away today or tomorrow. But God will be there, God does not go away either. He offers light in the midst of the darkness. He offers a love that is stronger even than death. God is with us now, giving us strength to go on, assuring us of his care and compassion. You can be sure that he knows the depth of your sorrow. He knows and understands what you are feeling, even when you can’t put it into words.
And God sends us comfort in the presence of family and friends who share our grief and care for us. And God sends us comfort in his Word. That word is Hope. Hope that nothing and no one can stand between us and him. It is a promise…a promise that God will be faithful. God will be faithful.
Hear and trust and believe what God has said in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. That our lives are infinitely precious to him; that death is not the end of our relationship with God but rather is a new beginning. Our scripture from Revelation 21 promises that God will: “wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more…And the one who was seated on the throne says, “See, I am making all things new.”
We will remember this amazing, loving, grace-filled woman named Elaine Beth Floy; child of God. And we will discover both pain and joy in the remembering. We will weep because she is no longer with us and we will weep for our loss. But we will also trust in the God who will wipe away all our tears.
Today, Elaine is walking with Jesus. She is experiencing the joy of the resurrection; and the promises of God fulfilled. It is the same promise that God makes to each of us. We will always have a place with God. And nothing can take that away, from Elaine, or from us.
We should not be here today. But we are. But so is Jesus. Elaine is made new, and we are not alone. Thanks be to God.