Mike was a “full of life” type of individual, and anybody that knew him knew that truth about him.
Like so many others, I liked him from the moment I met him.
He used to tell me jokes in the line to shake hands after church, or once we gathered for snacks afterwards. He probably didn’t know it but it brought real light to my day.
Sundays, (well, Sundays as we knew them prior to Covid-19), were busy days for a preacher and in that hectic pace of the morning it is easy to get locked-into the long list of responsibilities and where one has to get to next. Mike always seemed to remind me in his lighthearted way, why were gathered in the first place. Even when I saw him in the hospital in those last weeks before he died, Mike was always one to joke around, wanting to make sure I was as much taken care of as he was.
That is quite a legacy.
Jesus talks about the wise and the foolish in our Gospel. It is all about the present tense – ask he asks us, “what are our priorities?” Are they the things built on a rock, that can weather storms, and build toward a future? Or are our priorities about things that wash away so easily, like the sand that provides no foundation for anything? Jesus us gives a challenge for us to do a little self-assessment; hopeful that we can build our lives on that which will last.
We gather here to celebrate Mike – not in the way we originally hoped or had planned months ago, or even considered as the second draft of what we expected to happen today, but even gathered like this, both here and on zoom we still see in front of us the legacy of a life built on a firm foundation.
Mike was a builder with his “life-long guarantee,” which of course he both caringly and jokingly revoked in the last few weeks of his life because he knew he wouldn’t be there to fulfill it.
But his legacy is built on something far greater than just his business and many accomplishments.
Mike was a person who loved; who was loved; who shared love. Love of the kids that became his kids; and the grand kids that became the center of everything are the ongoing legacy of that love. The friends, family and others who will hopefully gather a year from now to celebrate, will continue to share that love as that legacy lives on.
His lifelong friendship and then marriage to you Paula is not only a legacy but a tribute to the partnership you shared; the life you gave each other and the love it inspired and continues to inspire. A house built on love, never falls. Even when one of its chief occupants is no longer there to embody it.
What greater legacy can one have than that?
Mike loved his church and the community he built here. We aren’t “singing yet” or really gathering here yet within these walls but this space and the walls that hold up the ceiling raised above us are filled with the songs of those (including Mike’s) whose lives are built on the firm foundation of Jesus love for us. His love embraces us in ways we can’t always comprehend and at times we try to run from or ignore – but once that love is realized it never lets us go – and that’s a life worth building on.
Mike loved his cars and his tinkering and his tools, trophies and his many, many projects and going to shows but at the core of all of them, I think as an observer, is that all those things were never about the stuff, or the accolades, or the achievements of a job done well and a job done right. They were always about the people; investing human capital into the things that last. In a world where rust destroys and moths consume, and pandemics strike- it is building the bonds of trust and friendship, of lending a hand when someone needed it, of delivering on a promise not just because it is your reputation at take but because it better serves others and builds on their lives, gifts and needs. And Mike always knew that kind of investment in others was always worth the cost. It was a cost that brought him both meaning and joy.
That’s what a life built on self-giving love does.
Jesus points us to build our lives that way -to be wise and seek the same eternal love that is continually seeking us. As we live through this pandemic, we see so much of the world we have built around us is built on sinking sand. They erode and wash away with the wind or the rain or the tide and crumble. So many of the things we deemed permanent have been torn down, some things – maybe many of those things, we hate to admit it, could remain torn down for good.
But Jesus also reminds us that those are the things that don’t really matter much at all. They vie for our allegiance and consume most of our attention, but they are mot the things that endure. What endures is a life built on love and building up those around you with that same love that breathes life into death and building, brings order out of chaos and builds something new out what has crumbled or weathered away.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that in the end only three things remain: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.
That love which so sustained our brother Mike: now seeks you today.
Don’t run from it; but embrace love’s coming. When God’s all-encompassing love finds us our lives are never quite the same. Built on God’s love – we are built to last far greater than any “lifetime guarantee.” So let’s get to it. Amen.