Funeral Homily for Jim Hamlett

The Burial of the Dead “ James Darrington Hamlett

October 14, 2012 “ 2:00 pm

Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.


Untimely and tragic events bring out all our dark and desperate questions. What did  I miss? What more could I have done? How do things like this happen? Where is God and what is he doing? Broken and humbled we reach out to each other with a new compassion. We don’t know what else to do so we cling to one another and look for some explanation. We try to understand.  When we face things that don’t make sense, we begin to wonder if anything makes any sense.

One of the problems with being human is that we put too high a value on understanding. We think if we can somehow explain things it will make times like this easier. We’re easily threatened by the tenuous nature of life. Tragedy reminds us of our limited nature and we clamor for some sense of control, some answer that might make things manageable.

God doesn’t always provide understanding. Sometimes it comes later but sometimes it doesn’t come at all. We want some system we can follow that will make things turn out right. But this world is full of things that just aren’t right. Goodness and evil are intertwined. Pain and joy co-mingle. God doesn’t always provide understanding.

And God doesn’t require understanding.  Faith is not having the answers and being able to explain things. Faith is putting one foot in front of the other where there is no immediate answer. Faith is a gift to us to enable us to live where there are no explanations. Faith eventually leads to acceptance and peace but it also allows for doubt and despair, deep anger and total frustration. Explanations are flimsy but faith is deep and broad and wherever we are on such a day as this, God will weave that into hope.

The things we cannot fix or forgive are left to God. We bump up against our limited nature and there we find the unlimited nature of God himself. God forgives all things. God transforms all things. We are hit with things so much bigger than we are. And we are reminded that something bigger still is there. What we cannot absorb is left to faith which brings us closer to that which absorbs all pain and grief.  Today we are broken. We cling to each other and turn to God in need.

It is the truest form of worship, the deepest form of faith, this brokenness, this place where we see we do not have the answer. Here there is no pretense, no pride, no control. Here there is only raw and pure need, where we quit trying to be God and we turn to God.

Nothing remains for us except hope, the very hope so fully expressed in Christ Jesus. We may never understand. As we let go of that need, we find faith and hope, the gifts of God for the people of God.