Here is the prayer I offered at the memorial service for Bill Nichols.
Memorial Service for
C. William ?Bill? Nichols
April 25, 2012
Sharon E. Watkins
You are our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.
We give you thanks that we can come together this morning ? family, friends, church family, in the shelter of your healing love to express grief and to face emptiness, and to know that you love us.
Dear God, we confess it is difficult to mark the end of a lifetime. But it is also right that we celebrate the gift of life as it has come in a particular person. In so doing, we offer our gratitude to you, O God of Creation — for all that you have given.
We give you thanks that we can gather as your children, to comfort and support one another in a time of loss — and to share words of hope to lighten our sadness, to take away the sting of death.
And so we gather this morning to express our grief, but also to give praise to you, to witness to our faith as we celebrate a life.
We are especially grateful today to remember with love and appreciation the life of C. William Nichols and to give thanks for him.
We do give thanks, dear God, for Bill.
For one who dedicated his life to you by dedicating his life to your church. Who could evoke visions of your love through his weaving of stories, recounted by heart, not missing a word, painting vibrant word pictures that brought reassuring images startlingly clear ? like the unexpected shimmering of angel portraits long since thought to be whitewashed away.
We give thanks for Bill?s quiet wisdom, gently offered to family and friends and parishioners.
And for that iconic public moment when he helped a wounded, frightened church get off a slow, dorky riding lawn mower, going in circles, and get onto a Harley to hit the road to mission with confidence and hope.
We give you thanks that he was a writer, that his words remain and that his witness remains through a family and church who knew him and love him still.
For one who was a rock to his grandchildren, great grandchildren and children and loving life partner to Claudine.
Who continued to teach the faith by example to all those around him even as he journeyed ever closer to the boundary between this life and the next, we give you thanks and praise.
We remember Jesus? words of promise:
?Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died and behold I am alive forevermore. . .I am the resurrection and the life; those who believe in me, though they die, yet shall they live. . .?
Thank you, dear God, for your promises; for the knowledge that we are all in your hands and you desire to let none of us go — ever.
Help us to put our trust in you. Show us that what we do not understand we can leave to mystery and to your keeping in the profound confidence that nothing ? neither life nor death nor anything else in all creation can separate us from your love through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN