metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

In memory of Anna Garrett

September 1997
Theme: Death, The vocation of man   Place: London Parish   Period: 1996-2000   Genre: Sermon

Before we disperse and before we commit the body of Anya whom we have revered and loved to her last place of repose until the day of the Resurrection, I would like to say just a few words.

Ten days ago we were facing separation — and the pain of it was great and yet this pain was supported by our faith in the Resurrection. In her body Anya was at rest and we could say with faith, with a calm and dolorous conviction, “Blessed is the way which thou treadest today, o human soul, because a place of rest has been prepared for you.” And it is only because we can say these words that we could say at the start of the service, “Blessed is our God.” Yes, blessed is our God for the life of Anya, blessed is our God for the image which is left to us, blessed is our God, Who has  freed her from temporary suffering and allowed her enter into eternity and to meet Him in Whom she believed face to face and in Him and with Him all those who have loved her and whom she has loved. Ten days ago we thought of her integrity, of her serenity, of the peace and quiet which emanated from her. We thought of the faithfulness of her friendship and love.

Today we have been standing before the face of God holding candles not only as we hold them on Easter night proclaiming Christ’s Resurrection, the victory of life over death, the victory of light over darkness, but holding those candles before God as a testimony: she has been a light to us in the course of her earthly life; she has kindled light in our hearts through love, through admiration, the quiet admiration which we had for her. And now having testified before God that she was a light, that each of us has been set aglow by her example and her person, we must do one more thing — we must bear fruit of what we have seen and heard and experienced through her in this earthly life. Christ said to us, if a seed does not die, it does not bear fruit. But the seed does not die unto destruction; a seed dies in its isolation, it breaks the bonds and the limits that held him a prisoner  and from this brokenness comes a new plant — new acorn or a new bread. And each of us who have received a message must be the good earth into which this message, this seed has fallen so that it may burst into life eternal already now on earth in the life of each of us. And it is not in isolation that this can happen to us because we are all like one field that has received the seed, one field  and we must all continue to understand and to perceive  that we are through our faith in God but also through the example of Anya and what she meant in the life of each of us, we have become more at one than we ever were. And one day if we bear fruit, if her example does not pass away, if her image in us become good,  then when we all will stand before the throne of God and the Lord will call us as faithful servants, we will turn to Him and say, “Lord, take what she gave us and give it to her — it is her life that shines in beauty in our lives and she will turn to God and say with the shy smile that was hers, “These are my children.” as Abraham said about his own descendants.

Let us come now, quietly, and say, each of us, a personal farewell to Anya — but a farewell which is not a separation, let us say to her, “You have gone ahead of us, let us follow you faithfully, step by step, into the depth of the Kingdom of God which begins now, which began when Christ became man, eternity and life. Amen.

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