Sermon for Requiem Mass for Teresa Butler Saturday 24 November 2012
Sermon preached by The Vicar
The Vicar’s address at Requiem Mass for Teresa on Saturday 24th November
When my father died, because he loved gardening, we read St. John’s Easter morning story at his funeral, before we laid him to rest in a country churchyard, against the backdrop of the fields and hills which he had seen all his life.
There are no hills or fields here, but there is a garden: the courtyard of this church. It provides a place of peace and rest for the weary office workers and shoppers amidst the bustle and noise of W1.
Teresa did not have an easy life, bringing up four children on her own, and she was not always easy to be with. But this place was a refuge for her; somewhere she found peace and solace, friendship and the warmth of human kindness.
So her family have asked that there might be a service for her, here in the church which she loved so much, and as a memorial to her, have given a bench for the courtyard so that others might find rest and peace there. At the end of this mass, we will all go outside and bless the bench in her memory.
In the gospel Mary Magdalene mistakes Jesus for the gardener, until he speaks her name: “Mary.” Teresa’s name is on the bench, so people who never knew her but see it may wonder who this lady was and why she was important to some people.
Her family will of course remember her.
We in this church will remember her, year by year, on the anniversary of her death, and more often as we pass this bench and pause perhaps to recall the lady I always thought of as a wee sparrow.
But most important of all, she remembered by Jesus who calls her by name, as he called Mary Magdalene in that other garden so long ago. He calls her to be with the God who is his Father and hers. He calls her to share in the life of the heavenly city. There, by the river of the water of life, there grow trees which are for the healing of all our ills.