Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Well, I honestly feel we have put our blogfriend Lee to rest now, in style.

Lee's "real" funeral was this afternoon at his home church in Bristol, VA. But this evening, several of us attended his cyber-funeral on Facebook, presided by Deacon Larry of Renz in the Woods. Larry did a fantastic job.

Prior to the service, Larry messaged us that if we wanted to fully participate in the Eucharist, it was BYOE (Bring your own elements), and that Lee's home church priest, Fr. Mark Frazier, was going to consecrate all our elements via the Internet. (It works for me. I figure that is something God can handle easily).

I had decided to crank up a fire in my chiminea and attend from "my sacred spot in the yard." Lee and I had spent many Facebook hours in that spot, with me and my laptop, as had many of the other cyber-attendees. It was fitting.

As the service started, a lovely yellow sunset was gracing my pasture. I could hear my donkeys munching on their hay. A few birds were chirping. As the service went on, the dark silence of a quiet Friday night in the country settled in insidiously.

Larry's planning on this service was brilliant. He used the standard Rite II Book of Common Prayer burial. We were able to type in the responses in the "comments" section of Larry's status reports. I thought about all those "and also with you's", and "Amens" and "Thanks be to Gods" that were coming in from all over the country. I did many parts of the service aloud, such as the Apostle's Creed. Our service music, readings, and the actual homily by Fr. Mark from earlier today were on the Emmanuel Cyber Chapel site, and we were instructed as to when to click on the pre-recorded material. (BTW...the New Testament reading? That's me, in all my 5th generation rural NE Missouri accent, just a tad cleaned up b/c it's my "reading aloud voice". I am a regular lector here at Trinity in Kirksville and I guess I can say this has been my biggest lector gig.)

There I was, in the dark, by my fire, standing and reciting the Apostle’s creed with tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes and my voice cracking b/c the sheer beauty of what was happening was just grabbing me. I was NOT alone in the dark. I was standing in God’s firmament, with several other people slung all over the country, at that moment who were all in their "sacred spaces for the evening", reciting the Creed.

The next moment of utter "Oh, wow-ness" was at the exchanging of the peace. I had my Facebook Chat activated, and my Facebook friends were all exchanging the peace, LIVE, with me, just as if we were right there in church together! I felt like we were all standing around at Trinity here in Kirksville, doing this.

We used Eucharistic Prayer A, and I realized that even without the Book of Common Prayer with me, these words are burned in my heart, as are my responses. Before I knew it, I was kneeling in the yard, feeling the knees of my jeans getting damp, the chilly night breeze, the warmth of my chiminea fire and the TOTAL sacredness of my sacred space in the yard.

Larry typed in that our elements had been consecrated by Fr. Mark and then he typed in “The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven,” and “The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation,” and I tell you what...that Triscuit and little slug of wine I had brought out in the yard—was electric. Absolutely electric. It was one of the most real Sacraments I have ever felt. I kid you not.

As we went through the post-Communion prayer, and the commendation, I was itching for the release of "Thanks be to God." Not only did I type it, I announced it to the dogs and the donkeys and the mule and the neighbor's cows, and every rabbit, possum, and critter within earshot. It was release. Pure release.

I have been sitting with this experience this evening. I have said many times how I prefer the liturgical funeral to the non-liturgical funeral for a very simple reason. The standard funeral home funeral is becoming "too full of eulogizing." Like so many things in our American culture, it is becoming a "me-fest." Me, me the dead person. Look at me one last time. Me, me, the eulogizers. We all want our few minutes, our audience to foist our memories upon you to prove our love for the deceased. But the liturgical funeral is the antithesis to that.

What I like about liturgical funerals is that the deceased is not the object but the catalyst for the gathering. A liturgical funeral is about none of us and all of us. It is about the promise of glory and the hope of the Resurrection for each of us. It is about participating in our grief, sharing it, sharing the peace and hope of eternal life among each other. We are forced to respond with our cracking voices and the tears squirting out of our eyes and the movements of our bodies. We can share a common meal and a common cup. I wonder how many Triscuits and Ritz crackers and Wheat Thins all became the body of Christ tonight, one body, stretched across the U.S. and possibly beyond. I wonder how many bottles of wine ranging from the "wine we saved for a special occasion" all the way to a half empty bottle of Two Buck Chuck were shared as Christ's blood. (Me? A bottle of $3.99 Winking Owl Merlot from Aldi's. Believe it or not, Wine Spectator gave it good press.)

Sometimes I sit in my yard and wonder if God will even bother to show up. Tonight? Well...there was no doubt.


Wow. Wonderful comments, Maria. Thank you. It really was special, wasn't it? The very concept of what we did tonight...we broke down physical space. Did you elevate your bread and wine? I did. I think my favorite point in your post was when you realized you weren't alone in the dark. Peace!

PS - I really like the light a candle thing but couldn't figure out how to put in on the chapel blog. I will try to figure out how to give you access to the blog, then could you put it on there?

Have never had an experience like this - in the ethers - before. It was indeed well done and movingly reported here. God enfold Lee and comfort those who mourn and will continue on a little longer on this side of greater Life.

Larry, not only did I elevate my garlic Triscuit, I broke it. Of course it is not scored like a priest wafer so I could not do the cool "break it into four pieces and hold it up like my priest does" thing, but two halves of a Triscuit is good enough!

As this was a "symbolic Eucharist" I'm not certain I committed sacrilege by sharing my bread with the four dogs. It may be the one and only time in their lives that they can partake in "communion."

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Such eloquence! Yes, it was a/an ___ experience. For the life of me, I still can't find the right adjective to fill in that blank. Which is probably why I still haven't been able to blog about it. Thanks for speaking much of what's been in my heart and soul since the cyber-funeral.

I am so sorry that I could not be there, but I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face as I read this.

As is always the case, there is just no accounting for grace. It appears it was present in abundance at this funeral.

Kirkepiscatoid, I love love love what you say about the funeral liturgy and catalyst near the end. As someone who has spent a lot of time doing funeral ministry, this really touched my heart.

Thank you for sharing this, Kirk. What a beautiful service and loving tribute....

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I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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