The Funeral of Nancy Quisenberry – October 1, 2006

The last time I spoke with Nancy, I had just come from the church and on my way passed through a flock of migrating monarch butterflies.  They were crossing over the road in front of me.  When I got to the hospital, I mentioned this to her because we had once shared a conversation on the wonder of their magnificent journey across thousands of miles each year.

Turns out no one is sure what power pulls the monarch butterfly to its destiny what force guides it, what sets its direction and keeps it focused.   As yet, it is a mystery.   But year after year, we mark its wondrous journey.

As I left her that day, it occurred to me that she, too, has been on a wondrous journey, pulled and sustained and guided by the mystery of God’s love and promise and bidding.

We are here today because we have shared in ways small and profound Nancy’s wondrous journey.  Knew her in our way and in our time.

Much of that journey was articulated in the amazing accounting that James put in the obituary in the News Gazette.   All that is real to us as we consider how she touched us on each leg of this journey.

Many of you were touched by her in her work relationships as an educator, as an administrator, as a leader, and you know of her energy, her intelligence and her passion for excellence.  You knew her as friend and colleague, and didn’t it seemed that through all the things she had committed herself to, she was first friend, before peer.  And you will remember those treasured moments.

Many of you were touched by her boundless commitment to community.  The list of organizations that she participated in and led is truly amazing.   In the few years that she was here, she became the interim director of the Orpheum Theatre, embracing that responsibility with energy and enthusiasm.  She became President of the local Rotary Club where she developed deep and lasting relationships.  Here is a woman who saw what each of us might do if we took another’s hand in cooperation.  Her sense of community and her sense of responsibility to it is a great model and example.

So many have been touched by her commitment to the church community, where she served at every level, from synodical council, church president, committee leader, mentor.   Here at St. Matthew she worked to help set the vision of this congregation through our strategic planning process.  Her sense of excellence and community was acted out in her church and it was motivated by the love of God and hope of God’s promise for creation.

Some of you shared the gracious touch her love for family.    In the time I knew her, this was the pinnacle of all of her interest and joys.   For 46 years, Jim she partnered with you an adventure that brought forth a wonderful legacy of family, shared vision, mutual support and steadfast love.  And this is a gift and this a treasure.

James she was so proud of you, so eager to participate in your life, ever looking for opportunities to speak of your steadiness and your character.   So proud that you were her son.  Jill you know that you were like a daughter to her, confidant, encourager.  One who embraced you as daughter in law, mother of her grandson, and bride of her son, but also honored and loved you for all else that you are, maybe above all, that you are a teacher.   And together you gave her her greatest gift, Will, whose unabashed love for Oma and Opa filled her will joy and added life to her days even as this disease contended with her. . .  you were the apple of her eye.

Nancy leaves her mark on this world, a rich legacy that is deep and broad of work and family, of community and church.   As overflowing our chest of memory might be, how rich the legacy, and how dear our encounters with her, a great a gift as these things are, there is more.

These memories are bound by their nature to this time, and as they serve as our balm and healing and in many ways our guide and our inspiration, they are of this time.  But hope and joy still beckon, are undaunted, are not overcome.

Now Nancy’s journey, the life she led, has passed beyond the sight of this time and of this world.  She has come now to the time we see only by faith, through God’s Word and in the face of the resurrected Christ.  Now she has embraced the promise of Christ that she lived under all her life, the promise he has gone to prepare a place for her that so where he is, so shall she be also.   She has met that promise that she lived under in her life with confidence and certainty and peace.  I know of time that this faith was shaken or when the fear of death overtook her.

Unlike the monarch butterfly, we know what sustained and called Nancy Quisenberry.  The steadfast and uncontingent love of Christ, the unfading promise of the resurrection to eternal life and the hope that dawned in her baptism and now shines brighter still, even as we mourn her death.

For Nancy, now, the resurrection has become her life.  For Nancy, now, the struggle is over and the joy of God’s eternal presence has risen.   Like the monarch butterfly, she has come through her wondrous journey to her destiny. She now knows hope fulfilled, love immeasurable, faith confirmed and joy eternal.

So now we release her into God’s hands, saddened by her passing, but inspired by her example, consoled by her memory, full of thanksgiving for her life and legacy, and comforted by her hope that never dimmed or faltered.    See, even now, she teaches us.  Well done, good and faithful servant.   Well done.