Greeting: Welcome to each of you as we gather this morning to celebrate with joy the life of a good man and to release his body to be cremated. Those of us left behind acknowledge the pain of loss and separation and it is difficult. May you be comforted knowing that we are all part of God’s great creation and as such we, like all that exists, began as stardust. We believe that we are spiritual beings cradled in our human bodies that must return to the earth. Christians believe that in death life does not end but that we fall into the embrace of our loving God who raised Jesus from the dead, and will raise us into a new life in glory.
So too with Ford, yet we also believe that his spirit soars and he still walks with us. Just as the body returns to its origin so too does Ford’s spirit returns home to his Loving God.
Opening Prayer: Let us pray, Gracious and Loving God, we gather to remember your son, Ford. We remember the many ways that Ford revealed you to us. We remember the generosity of his loving and through his love we felt your generous Spirit. We remember the ways that Ford nurtured, encouraged, affirmed and supported us, and through him we felt your nurturing Spirit. We remember Ford’s extraordinary human spirit and his direct connection to you. We have come to know you, Generous Spirit, through your son, Ford. And for this we give you thanks. Amen.
First Reading: (from the book “Where Am I Now?” Michael Morwood, 2011, p 109 – 111)
We believe we exist in God, but in a God beyond our images and descriptions. God beyond the many names we use: Breath of Life, Creator, Source, and Sustainer of everything that exists. Everywhere we look, this energizing presence comes to visible expression. We believe that each of us gives this presence and source a unique way of doing so.
Everywhere we look, we can observe the perpetual rhythm of new life, followed by death, followed by new life. So we do not believe that death is the final end of anything, nor is it for us the start of a journey to somewhere else. Rather, it is a transformation in the continuation of the ebb and flow of existence in ways we do not understand.
Ford’s death speaks to us of the wonder of being human in the universe so vast and so magnificent and of our existence within a mystery and a power that we cannot put into words. In a very real sense, this vast and magnificent universe of ours came alive and became aware in Ford. He gave God a way of coming to expression, here in our lives, here in a way that reached out and touched us, as a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, and a loyal friend. He lived and loved God. God lived in him and loved in him. And in death, Ford lives on in God and in us.
Second Reading: (from the book “Where Am I Now?” Michael Morwood, 2011, p. 114-115)
Do you know that every atom
In my body, here before you, was manufactured in a massive explosion
In a start billions years ago?
Do you believe, as I do,
In the Spirit of life at work for the billions of years
That finally brought human form to those atoms?
In me the Spirit of Life and Love
Came to visible expression in human form
When I loved you,
When I called you my friends,
When I laughed
When I cried,
When I did whatever you loved about me.
Where am I now?
I continue to dance
With the Spirit of Life and Love
In ways beyond words and images.
But I am with you, and always will be
as this Spirit continues to move in your lives.
I am with you
And always will be,
In the Spirit of Life and Love.
Gospel Reading: (1 John 4: 11-12, 17)
Dear friends. Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made complete in us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is mad complete among us.
Reflection: Sharing of Stories of Ford
Oh my Beloved, you are my Shepherd,
I shall not want;
You bring me to green pastures for rest.
And lead me beside restful waters
Renewing my spirit;
You restore my soul.
You lead me in the path of goodness
To follow Love’s way.
Even though I walk through the
Valley of the shadow and of death,
I am not afraid;
For you are ever with me;
Your rod and you staff
They guide me.
They give me strength and comfort.
You prepare a table for me
In the presence of all my fears;
You bless me with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow
All the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the heart of the Beloved forever.
(Translation by Nan Merrill, “Praying the Psalms”)
Let us pray the Prayer of Jesus: Our Father and Mother……..
Closing Prayer: Prayer of Thanksgiving
Gentle Spirit, as we release Ford’s body for cremation, we give thanks for his human body who laughed and cried, loved and saw the wonder of creation in family, children and grandchildren. We give thanks for the many ways Ford’s life touched ours. We give thanks for the generosity of his loving and his faithfulness. We give thanks for his dedication to and healing through AA….and for Charlie. We give thanks for the courage through great suffering and how he faced death. We give thanks for Charlene’s love and faithfulness that anchored him as he faced struggles and medical challenges. We give thanks for his supportive family and for children and little ones who gave him delight and purpose. We especially give thanks for Ford’s extraordinary human spirit. Ford is now at peace with you, his Loving God, and Ford remains with us and in our hearts always. Amen.
Ford, go with and live on in peace with your God. To each of us here, go now in peace, knowing that Ford forever remains part of our lives and lives on in our beings. Amen.