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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Memorial Service
Tom Cernik (1/3/1949 - 27/12/2017)
South Sydney Uniting Church
February 4, 2018

Matthew 11:28-30

‘Between weariness and comfort’

Between weariness and comfort, between a coming-to Christ (the Sacred Stranger) and a finding-rest … the gospel opens a space. God be with you

Christ is the Sacred Stranger because he promises to be present in the last, the little and the least familiar. Indeed, in our text, Jesus appears as an ox, inviting us to recognise/reimagine ourselves as animals, as workers, as souls in need of rest ...

The gospel space is marked by understanding, inclusiveness, gentleness, collaboration, physicality/animality, soulful peace/right relationship. And a longer homily could be given on each or any of these.

Most succinctly, though, weariness and comfort meet in compassion. The gospel inspires, invites and proclaims compassion, the space or reign of God … again and again.

And compassion (from the Hebrew root meaning “womb”) is not simply a moral but a theological virtue, meaning that, for all creatures, siblings however “strange”, compassion is the place of primary encounter with a God who is love.

May we not tire of affirming it — and not grow weary of new expressions in our common search for God, for love ... discovery, lamentation, celebration ...

Perhaps it’s as simple as learning to see the child ... in even the most jaded adult. A practice that may at least open a door to understanding.

Big Issue vendor Sharon writes: “Teach love, for that is what you are! Forgiveness is the key to happiness. Forgive others as you have been forgiven ...”

It’s a privilege to bear witness – to witness the friendship of Maidie and Tom. Affection, acceptance, mutual support (sharing real burdens; making burdens light). Once they were strangers! Hard to believe it. Once they were strangers … the key to soulful peace/right relationship … shalom.  

Our love for Tom can help focus our faith (what we choose to hear, say and do).

For Tom knew well what it’s like to be weary, to be heavy-laden, and — praise the holy in the “least of these” — he took the risk of love and knew the comfort of real friends, lively humour, character-building sport, diverse music (we’ll enjoy some of it this afternoon), safe and affordable housing, community.

And his love for us calls to our weariness, even now … in the Spirit of love especially now … that we might meet again, and continue to meet, in divine compassion (grateful, merciful/forgiving) and find rest for our souls. Amen.


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