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The Sermon was preached by The Rev. Linda Taupier, Decon

Friends and family, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Barbara, a beloved child of God. Just as she was welcomed into this world at her birth, we now bid her farewell as she embarks on her journey into the loving embrace of God.

When I sat down to write this homily, and thinking about Barbara, the word that came to mind was feisty. defines feisty as full of animation, energy, courage; spirited; spunky; plucky.  Barbara was all of that and much more.

Barbara committed entirely to anything she felt deeply about.  I’m sure you know either from reading her obituary or your personal experience how much she cared for the world around her, especially children and the disenfranchised.

We just heard both the 23rd Psalm and the Gospel account of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  Barbara lived into Jesus’ words, knowing in her heart that, just as Jesus did as The Good Shepherd, we too are to follow Jesus’ example.

What can be more calming than the bucolic image of Jesus caring for us, the sheep?  We feel cared for, loved, safe. Later in this service we will pray “Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant, Barbara, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock”.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd was willing to lay down his life so that others would know God’s love.  A good shepherd would, in fact, lie down blocking an enclosure he or she had probably made so that the sheep could not stray during the night and other animals could not get in.  The shepherd used his crook to keep predators out, as well as to pull sheep from danger.  The good shepherd was compassionate and knew his sheep and they knew his voice.  They would follow where he led them.  As a shepherd tending the flock, Jesus tells the disciples he will care for, be responsible for, the least and the lost.  They must do the same. Jesus won’t leave any behind.  Jesus will seek those on the margins. We have the same responsibility to help those who need help, without judgement.

I think we have all lost our way at times.  I know I have sometimes been tangled up in the bramble that is life and needed help finding my way.  By God’s saving grace there have been good shepherds along my path so that when I’ve been lost, I’ve been found.   Barbara has been one of the shining examples of following where Jesus led, being a good shepherd for others.

Barbara went into the margins of society.  She made a conscious choice to be a good shepherd, knowing she was made in God’s image as we all are.  Jesus spent the time he had with his disciples preparing them to be shepherds; shepherds as servants caring for the flock.

Jesus challenged those listening to rethink the rules that govern their lives.  Jesus is asking that they show mercy and justice to all, and we are given the same challenge.  We are all accountable to heal the sick, take care of the poor, accept those different from ourselves and tend to those in any need.  And, in so many ways, this is what Barbara did throughout her life.

Shortly after my arrival at CCC, some 7 years ago I sat on the Outreach Team with Barbara. Barabra was one of those who was instrumental in having members become involved in the groups we funded and not simply write checks.  This is one way that we can learn from those around us who have less than we do.  She helped to fund the Drop-In Center which is a thriving ministry here at CCC.  Going to Square One to visit the Cathedral classroom with her was lots of fun.  She radiated God’s love in all she did.

A cathedral friend of Barbara’s who can’t be here today, said “no one was more alive” and that “she made me more alive by her influence”.  I think this is a common sentiment.

Barbara spent her too short life taking seriously the reality that we are Jesus’ hands and feet in this world.

In our first reading from Ecclesiastes, we are reminded that there is a time for everything – a time to be born, and a time to die.  Although Barbara’s earthly journey has come to an end, this is not the end of her existence.  She has been born into eternal life promised us by God.

Barbara knew this and lived her life fully in the time she had with us.  Barbara touched lives in countless ways.  As long as stories and memories are shared, she will live with us in our hearts.