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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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The funeral of Brian Ashley Vazey
South Sydney Uniting Church
March 17, 2015

Job 19:23-27; Luke 4:16-30

‘Courage and humility’

There’s a lot that reminds me of Brian in these readings from the Book of Job and the Gospel of Luke.

Job raged against injustice, in his own life and in the world around him. Our text reveals a pivotal moment of faith. Enigmatic. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at last he will stand upon the earth.” Job’s faith is in a God of this world. A God for this world. A heaven on earth. A God he imagines seeing “in the flesh”, even as his own body grieves him.

This kind of faith is too much for Job’s friends. They advise him to tone it down, to accept the conventional religious and social view: powerful authority is not to be questioned. Job ought to submit. He ought to ask forgiveness, even if he isn’t sure of his errors. His suffering is deserved. The blessed are rewarded for their goodness.

The beauty of the Book of Job is its subversive complexity. While it’s true that Job learns humility, it’s also true that his raging against injustice incites the Maker of all to make an appearance. God shows Job the wonders of creation before declaring that Job alone has spoken well of the divine. Job was right to rage and to question.

Those of us who knew Brian witnessed his singular passion and determination. His clear sense of priorities, his rigorous engagements/arguments with one institution or another, his fierce intelligence. I saw something of the cost to Brian of all this fighting the good fight. It wasn’t about ego or love of the limelight. He really cared. For road safety. For administrative transparency and accountability. For the health of the headland.

The Redeemer for whom Job longed may well be the Christ who brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives and the oppressed, recovery of sight to the blind, forgiveness of debts that injustice might be restrained, and that justice, the future, might have a chance.

The Redeemer for whom Brian longed may well be the Christ whose passion for justice provokes some to hostility, while inspiring in others a brave, gentle and faithful love.

These last years Brian has shown such courage and humility. His trust in Margaret has helped him every step of the way. Respect for him as a person of integrity, of great passion and brave vulnerability, is magnified in the faithfulness of his family.

The good news of a faithful God even a God of eternal life reaches us as friends of Brian, as keepers and tellers of his story. Be passionate. Be vulnerable. In this is true solidarity and spirituality. In this way, love dispels fear (1 John 4:18).

In the name of God Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver Amen.