Letter from the Rector
How shall we sing our song?
On Thursday, January 27th we celebrated the resurrection of Christ and gave thanks for the life of Ann Jordan. It was a beautiful, tearful, and joy-filled service. We remembered many facets of Ann’s life: her remarkable sense of humor (when asked many years ago about selective service, she responded, “If I’m ever drafted we’re in deep trouble.”), her determination, courage, and persistence in making her way in a world that often looked past her (sometimes literally), and her deeply found, active and wonder-filled faith in Christ. It was through remembrances, one by a childhood friend, another by a seminary classmate that was delivered by Gloria Bayne, a third by our own Margie Fay, and a moving homily by the Rev. Michael Lemaire that each facet reflected the light of Ann’s faithful life.
But what was remarkable about this memorial service, as it is about many funerals and memorial services, is that as we remembered and gave thanks for Ann’s life, these remembrances and reflections all pointed in the same direction. There were many notes but one melody, with our prayers and song coming to culmination near the conclusion of this service. It came when one of Ann’s long-time friends, companions, and spiritual guides, the Rev. Bill Fay offered the Commendation. Below is one of the prayers of the Commendation, a prayer that goes back to at least the ninth century, that he offered,
You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to the earth shall we return. For so did you ordain when you created me saying “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 499)
This is the song that we as Christians make, this is the song that we all take part in. That no matter our place in life, the chaos or confusion that we find within it, yes even at the point of death, our song is one of praise to God. What was remarkable about Ann’s service was that these words of belief and praise were not empty words delivered by rote. When I and others visited with Ann during her last few days, she reflected on her life, especially with her memorial service as a lens. As she took account of her life, with all of its joy and tribulation, she offered a profound and simple testament of her love of those left behind and her faith in God. One of the last things that Ann said was a reminder to us about the ultimate reality of life when she said, “Don’t let a little thing like death get in the way.” This was Ann’s song, made even at the grave. This is the song that we all can make in this world.
It is not easy to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. The Psalmist knew this. Psalm 137 is a lament, a lament over the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of Israel in a foreign land. It is a reminder that it is difficult to sing this song when the world around us does not understand its meaning. And yet. It is also a reminder that no matter where we find ourselves, our song is a song of hope, it is a song sung in the dark of night, when it is not clear when the dawn will break. It is a song that knows the travails of life well, as Ann did, but hopes and believes that there is a greater force that overcomes it. For the life and witness of Ann Caroline Jordan may we be thankful. For her courage, for her determination, for her witness to a faith that lives in us all. Thank you Ann for your witness, seen in our service of remembrance, seen through scripture, remembrance, the Eucharist and the prayers, thank you for our reminder that no matter where we are in this life, even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. And don’t let a little thing like death get in the way.