Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Funeral Sermon - Janice M. Gonyeau

December 21:

Funeral Sermon - Janice M. Gonyeau
DOB: 3/25/1953    DOD: 12/7/2013 DOMS: 12/21/2013

The writer of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes put it this way:
   "For every thing there is a season
   And a time for every matter under heaven."

The writer than goes on to list pairs of events
   Each pair containing two "connected opposites"
      Like weeping and laughter
      Like mourning and dancing

But he begins with
   "A time to be born      And a time to die"

Well, Janice was born twenty days after Easter in 1953
And she died eighteen days before Christmas sixty years later.

But, although it is her death,   that seems to bring us here
And although our     pain, loss, and grief over her death
   seem to be our dominant emotions,

In actuality,  It is what she did and how she lived
Between her time to be born and her time to die
   That really bring us here

   And it is the love that we felt
   Between those times
      That is really our dominant emotion.

   For without that love - for and from - her
      We would not be in pain
      We would not be feeling our loss
      We would not be grieving and mourning.
And so we come here today
   To celebrate and give thanks for
the life of the woman in that Australian Outback hat
   and for the fact that we had the honor of having
      the time between our births and our deaths
   intersect and intertwine with
the time between her birth and her death.

Sixty years seems an inadequate amount of time
for God to share Janice with us
But it is more than four times as long
   As some doctors said we would have her.

For when Janice was 10 or 11
   She was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes
And the doctors told Norma and Ed
   That she would most likely not make it to 15.

The tenacity that we have all witnessed in Janice's life
   Was present way back then

She went to a school in Boston, learned how to take care of herself
   And then made good use of the knowledge.

She did such a good job that
Combined with the improvements in treatment
   Another doctor later predicted that she might make it to 35.

And so, amidst our grief,
   We celebrate that she had 45 more years than the original doctor thought
   And that she had 25 more years than the second said she would have.

I am one of those who would not have had the joy of spending time with her
   If either of those doctors had been right.

We celebrate too, the joy that she gave to - and received from -
   Her animals.
      To her homing pigeons and chickens
      to her dogs, some of whom weighed as much or more
than Janice
   And of course to her horse
      Which she rescued from a truck on its way
to Canada where it was to be slaughtered.

But she cared about people as well.

Janice was never well off
   Her housing expenses took more than half of her disability check
But she was generous
Helping family and friends
   Even when it meant going without herself.

She could be stubborn
   But she loved to laugh

When she first got her prosthesis
   She went to Bill's to ride
And once he was satisfied that she was stable
He let her go on ahead
   And the her new leg (which had a button on the inside)
      Came lose and hung in the stirrup
      Bill screamed
      All Janice could do was laugh.

Janice holds a special place in my time as pastor here
   For on November 25, 2007, a few months after I arrived
she became the first person other than my wife and son
   Whom I received as a member of this congregation.

Janice faced more challenges in her life
   Than most of us ever will
But her attitude toward those challenges
set an example for all of us.

Her willingness to laugh rather than complain
Her generosity to others despite limited economic means
Her faith in God even with all the problems she faced
   Should be an example to all of us.

I have to believe that when Christ came to get her two weeks ago,
He told her that she reminded Him of the widow in Luke's gospel      [Luke 21: 1-4]

Janice didn't have much
   But like the widow in the story
   She gave from - not from abundance,    but from what she had to live on.

With the example she set for the rest of us,
   It is no wonder that this is a time to grieve and mourn our loss

But too, with the example she set for the rest of us
   It is no wonder that this is a time for us to celebrate
And as part of that celebration
   That this is also a time to give thanks to God
   That she was - and I think, will remain - a part of our lives.