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Ordinary Sunday 27, Year A
Memorial for Jeannie Kelso AM
South Sydney Uniting Church
October 1, 2017

Exodus 20:1-4,7-9,12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46

‘The words of my mouth’

“May the words of my mouth/ and the thoughts of my heart/ be pleasing in your sight, Adonai,/ my rock and my redeemer!”

So concludes our psalm for today, a three-fold prayer-poem. The sum of the first part of the psalm can be stated quite simply: the world witnesses to God. The second part is a precisely constructed passage exalting the virtues, benefits and desirability of the torah (God’s “law”, or “instruction”). The third part is a prayer for God’s help/grace.

God in/of creation; in/through revelation of goodness (liberty and justice); preservation/salvation for frail and fallible people. Creation; revelation; salvation. A deep and broad theology. And, fittingly, on this day of thanksgiving for Jeannie Kelso, a mighty song. God be with you

Some great lines: “[The sun] rises at one end of the sky/ and travels to the other end,/ and nothing escapes its warmth” (v.6); “Your law, Adonai, is perfect;/ it refreshes the soul./ Your rule is to be trusted;/ it gives wisdom to the naïve./ Your purposes, O God, are right;/ they gladden the heart./ Your command is clear;/ it gives light to the eyes” (vv.7-8). “But who can detect one’s own failings?/ Forgive the misdeeds I don’t even know about!” (v.12).

It strikes me that the psalm, this mighty song, echoes/enfolds the themes of our other readings.

The parable from Matthew 21 is about abuse of creation as well as abuse of calling – all manner of greed and violence (Jesus, the victim and victor). Exodus 20 tells the story of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments – in scenes of awe and wonder – instruction/revelation for a people no longer slaves, no longer oppressed. And Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi sees the Apostle, like the sun in the heavens each day (Psalm 19), running to the “finish line” and “toward the prize – the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (salvation/acceptance with/alongside others in a diverse/egalitarian faith community).

There’s also the rock/stone motif: the once-rejected cornerstone (the marginalised at the centre of a new order); the stone tablets of the law; the stone rolled from the tomb’s entrance (by the “power of the resurrection”); and the psalmist’s “rock” and “redeemer” to whom the song is addressed.

In other words, it takes a song to express fully the wonders of life and faith. The heart-felt “words of my mouth” are song words, sung words.

By way of stories and photographs, tears and laughter, hymns and operatic tunes, we remember Jeannie as a musician, a singer, a friend and mentor, a person of courage and compassion – a person of faith in whom was seen love for creation, love for instruction/revelation in ways of liberty and justice, and love for neighbour as one deserving of respect and kindness. A person called to non-violence, to life in abundance.

We have stories of Jeannie encouraging bold expressions of faith, hope and love. Stories of her considerable warmth and strength – her leadership at a time when the congregation was smaller, more vulnerable. Stories of an emotional parting. Missing Jeannie.

Stories of Jeannie establishing a community choir in Adelaide – the Hope & Harmony Choir (a community choir with over 40 members from all walks of life, including some from supported residential facilities). For Jeannie, music was a gift for all, and everybody was invited to sing along.

Indeed, we give thanks for Jeannie’s life and witness – her positive, creative and generous contributions – and for all the ways she embodied a delight in life with us. A mighty singer!

Praised be God in/of creation; in/through revelation of goodness (liberty and justice); salvation for frail and fallible people. Creation; revelation; salvation. Amen.

Let us offer our prayers for Jeannie, prayers for Jeannie’s family and friends … for the world and for one another. God of hope and harmony, hear our prayer … Amen.