Today we remember Abel Morris Sagen, better know as Bob. This is a day to acknowledge sorrow and laughter, grief and thanksgiving, death and new life. We come with heavy hearts for a dear friend and beloved family member has died. As we gather in community that burden is shared so that we may draw comfort and strength from one another.
In prayer, music, and song, hearing the word of God, receiving the bread and wine, we invite our Lord into this place. As we give thanks for Bob’s life we can move through this cloud of grief and receive the words of hope that come to us in this service.
For as long as I’ve known Bob as a member of this congregation and before that as owner of our local pharmacy he’s been known as Bob. On seeing his obituary, I was surprised to see that his legal name is Abel Morris. The story goes that he didn’t like that name so when his first son was given the name Bob, he decided to be known as Bob also.
Abel is a Biblical name given to Adam’s second son. Unfortunately his life was cut short by his jealous brother, Cain. So I guess we ought to be thankful the Bob we know escaped the destiny of that first Abel and enjoyed a good long life of 85 years.
Bob was a social person, connected in many ways to people through his pharmacy business in Raymond and Montesano, through his love of family and friends and member in several service organizations. He enjoyed visiting family and music and dancing, traveling in his motor home and was a devoted fan of the UW Huskies and Seattle Seahawks. And he was a faithful member of this Christian community.
Bob was a skilled pharmacist, maintaining his license for fifty-five years. Though he had many admirable qualities, one thing he could not do was fix things, he could not repair anything. His sons describe his meager supply of tools as old, rusty, dusty, and antique. Yet another of Bob’s gifts was that he was charming, he knew how to find others to do that which he could not.
Bob loved to go fishing even though he became miserably sea sick every time he went out on the ocean. He wasn’t adept at operating their small boat, so his oldest son became the designated driver.
Longtime clients of the Raymond pharmacy shared their stories of Bob’s compassionate generosity to them during the times the Weyerhauser mill cut back on employees’ hours. “I don’t know what I would have done had not Bob continued to fill my prescriptions even when I didn’t have the money to pay for them,” recounted one of his friends, This is but one example of Bob’s generous connectedness to community.
To be Christian is to be connected to Christian community. We share our stories and all have a place in the one great story, where not a single one is unknown or forgotten. All too often through unfortunate circumstances barriers to those precious connections cut us off from community.
The Christian claim is this—Jesus, Son of God, takes on human nature common to us all, saint or sinner, every one of us. Jesus calls us sister or brother. The solidarity he establishes with the entire human race is unbreakable. He goes to the cross with all humanity, he rises from the grave with all humanity. In him our human nature enjoys its happy ending and glorious new beginning. We celebrate our connections with one another and rejoice in the promise of eternal life, the sure and certain hope of resurrection given us in Christ Jesus through God’s love and mercy.
The passage from Isaiah, reminds us of those in society who are the disconnected ones—the poor, the enslaved, the disabled and oppressed. Jesus’ mission was clearly to enter in to humanity, breaking down all barriers so all may be in community, all equal, one to another.
Bob’s death separates us from him in this physical realm but we have the promise of eternal life, where all will be gathered again, connected once more, forever.
It has been said, “Life is eternal and love is immortal and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. Lift us up, O gracious God, that we may see further.” AMEN.