We are here this morning to celebrate the life of our friend and parishioner Peachy Horne, and to commend her into the care of our gracious and loving God.
It is a little unusual to have a funeral service on a Sunday morning. Peachy’s family prefers to have the burial of her ashes in a private service in our Memorial Garden, something that I totally understand. But I realized that this community of which Peachy was a part for so many years also needs to come together to mourn her death, and it seemed appropriate to do that on a Sunday morning.
You may notice that our reading from the Old Testament and most of our hymns today have a creation theme. (The exception is our final hymn, one of Peachy’s favorites, and one she said many times she wanted at her funeral.) There’s a reason for that theme.
Peachy had many roles at St. Dunstan’s, including a long stint as head of the altar guild. But what she was most known for, and what she for years dedicated hours and hours each week to, was taking care of our beautiful grounds.
Scripture tells us that God gave humans the responsibility for caring for the earth. Peachy took that responsibility seriously, especially the five acres of land which belong to this church.
Seriously might be an understatement. If, as scripture says, God can number the hairs on our heads, Peachy could number the blades of grass and leaves on the trees of this property.
When I came here years ago I quickly realized that I could do pretty much anything INside the church (within reason), but woe be unto me or anyone else who picked the wrong flower or pruned the wrong branch. Such actions could bring the wrath of Peachy, something no one wanted to encounter.
Peachy’s hard work paid off. The first thing most people notice and comment upon when they come here is the beauty of our grounds. And it has taken a whole committee of people now to do what Peachy once did alone.
Of course, that was only one aspect of Peachy’s life. She was also a devoted mother and grandmother, a successful realtor, an avid golfer, and traveler of the world.
Peachy was also a devoted daughter, who cared for her mother through the long and difficult stages of Alzheimer’s. She knew firsthand what it meant to have that terrible disease, and her greatest fear was that she would one day have it herself.
If there is any blessing in Peachy’s death it is that it came relatively quickly, that her long goodbye was not as long as it might have been.
Peachy was a person of deep faith, who was not afraid to say that prayer was important to her, and that she had experienced God’s presence in her life. She knew that there was nothing, even Alzheimer’s, that could separate her from God’s love.
Peachy and I talked at times about the great mystery of death and what is beyond this earthly life. The one true answer we can give is that we don’t know.
But we can have faith, and Peachy did.
Faith that, as our prayer books says, in death life is changed, not ended.
Faith that the God who created this world in which Peachy found so much joy and wonder, the God who created her, the God who sustained her throughout her life, would not abandon her in death.
One creation hymn that we are not singing today, “All Creatures of our God and King,” has this verse:
"And even you, most gentle death, waiting to hush our final breath, O praise God, Alleluia! You lead back home the child of God, for Christ our Lord that way has trod; O praise God, O praise God, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!"
Peachy has now been led back home, welcomed with a warm embrace from the God who created her, and reunited with her beloved parents.