Burial Sermon for Dianne Duncan

For printable version of the sermon, click HERE.


18402994_10207251820212502_9098298839809313724_nAlleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

It was March of first grade, Spring Break I believe, when a friend of mine came over to play. This was the first time that particular friend had come to our house. His mom gave him a big hug at our back door, reminded him to behave, and off she went for a few hours of childless freedom while we played. My friend and I quickly walked through the kitchen to head up the stairs when something caught his eye: there it was… in all its sparkling glory, our Christmas tree. My friend naturally exclaimed, “Mrs. Duncan, it’s March! You still have your Christmas Tree up?” To which my quick-witted mother promptly replied, “You mean your family hasn’t put yours up yet?”

As many of you know my mom had a love for Christmas that lasted throughout the year. Her Christmas spirit is on full display throughout the months complete with her “Jingle Bells” ring tone, Christmas stockings hung by the chimney with care, and of course, the Christmas tree which has been up for decades now. There was a brief hiatus in the summer of 2003 when major renovations to the living room forced the tree into hiding, but as soon as my parents were back in the house that tree reclaimed its prime location.

My mom always wanted to properly recognize each “lesser” season and so each holiday would get its own small set of decorations to join the Christmas ornaments throughout the year. In Easter, there were small bunnies and eggs scattered among the Santas and reindeer. There were flags for the 4th of July, and pumpkins for Halloween. However, always shining behind this temporary façade of other holidays were the twinkling lights and those same time-worn Christmas ornaments. At forty-something years old, the tree is not looking as sharp as it once did. As a permanent living room feature, it requires regular dusting and the lights have come and gone as they have burnt out through the years. Yet, no matter the time of year, it was not uncommon to find my mom gazing in awe at the tree while listening to “Jingle Bells” or some other Christmas classic.

When I was younger, I often pondered why my parents left the tree up all year long. If you knew my mom, you know that everything she did was with purpose and intention… and this is no different! The Christmas tree was certainly a fun quirk. The Dianne Duncan glint in her eye assured us of that. But… it was more than just fun… My mom wanted the constant reminder of the meaning of Christmas.

In Christmas, we celebrate that God comes down to us through Christ and meets us where we are. In Christmas, the creator steps foot into creation and everything changes. In Christmas, love itself is made incarnate, in the flesh, and we begin to know more fully that immeasurable love God has for us. Indeed, we are loved by the God who created us. My mom wanted the constant reminder of the incarnate love God made manifest through Jesus. For my mom, it was not only to bask in that love, but a reminder to do her best to share that incarnate love with all whom she encountered, both big and small… to do her part, as the Gospel lesson we just heard said, to love one another.

That incarnate love made manifest through my mom’s love served as a mirror reflecting God’s love onto others… onto the man who adores her and who she in turn adored giving an unconditional love that is rich and pure and unending. And that love extended to her first son whom she brought home to gaze at proudly and be the apple of her eye… to her other son who forever will be her baby no matter how old I get… to her dad for whom she was always an American princess… to her mom from whom she got her tenacity… to her sister-in-law (whom she merely called her sister), to her beloved cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, and the many, many others who knew that incarnate love she sought to share. Like, this church, Calvary, that was so integral to her life and to her faith… Like Calvary School where she poured herself into the ups and downs that it would take to serve each and every student. And there are countless other friends, neighbors, and, of course, animals (of which there are definitely far too many to name). Through it all she sought to share God’s love in her own special Dianne Michele Morgan Duncan way. Yes, my mom sought to share Christ’s incarnate love… the love of God that came down on Christmas. She was not perfect, but she did her best and for that we gather to say well done good and faithful servant.

While I cannot help to have a bit of the Christmas spirit inside my heart on this day, we are also here to celebrate another truth. That truth is that today is an Easter celebration. Indeed, we celebrate my mom’s life, but only in the light of Christ’s resurrection and proclaim our Easter hope, remembering that, as Julian of Norwich once wrote, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well.”

And as I reflect on this Easter celebration, I keep returning in my mind to something a seminary professor once said. On the first day, Good Friday, Christ died for our sake. On the second day, Holy Saturday, creation held its breath with hope. And on the third day Christ rose from the tomb to show all of creation that death was defeated. But then there was the fourth day…what about that fourth day…?

Brothers and sisters, we live on the fourth day. There is laughter and joy, but also pain and suffering. We live in the hope of the life to come amidst the pains of the present. We live on the fourth day where there is cancer, brain tumors, pneumonia, and septic shock, but there is also the hope of the life to come. I am here to tell you that although the fourth day, at times, feels like being stuck on Good Friday, it does not take away or diminish the third. The pains of this life do not negate the Easter truth: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” And it is with that Easter hope that we are able to stand… stand even at the grave and make our song “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”

In the end, it is our Easter faith that gives us courage to gather here today and behind our tear stained eyes celebrate Dianne Duncan’s life, my mom’s life, in the light of Christ’s resurrection. What we know in part my mom now knows in full. And so, it is with faith that we press forward on this fourth day with the spirit of Christmas, God’s love incarnate reflected onto us and through us onto others. Yes, with faith, we press forward on this fourth day with the hope of Easter in our hearts knowing that we do not say goodbye to the saints that go before us, but rather simply until we meet again… until we meet again in that place “where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.”

Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is Risen indeed. Alleluia.

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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