No Day for Easy Answers

A Eulogy for a Beloved Friend
Written and Delivered by Simon Peter

It is finished. 

That’s what I heard him say as he hung there on that tree. And just like that it’s over. Done.

When I heard him say it, fighting through the tears, fighting through the anger. Fighting through the shame. Just couldn’t keep it together. Thinking about what’s happened. What I’ve done. I just lost it. 

I don’t know why I’m here giving this speech today. Any-a-you could be up here, sharing your story, telling the tale of how you met Jesus. How Jesus turned your life upside down, why you believed him, followed him, why you’ve given your whole life to making this world the kind of place he dreamed of.  

I’m the last one should be giving tribute. Specially after last night. He knew I would do it. Said I would. I told him to back right off. That he was crazy. But after all that bluster, I did exactly as he said. Betrayed. Three times no less. Three times and so many more. So why’m I up here? I don’t rightly know. But I guess this isn’t a day for easy answers. 

No way to tie this whole mess up in a pretty little bow.

Don’t know about you, don’t know if you heard him say those words, don’t know if you were there when they crucified… 

It’s finished, he said. And today, with all us here, them words hang in the air like early-morning mist on the water. Kinda mist you see out fishing, hovering over the waters before the sun come up. Kinda mist hides something. Shows you something too. 

So hard to believe it’s all over. 

Can’t believe it, don’t want to believe it. We’d put all our hopes in him. I know I had. He was going to set us people free. He showed us, Jesus shows us our worth when others are putting us down, taking advantage. Shows us to find abundance and grace and beauty in the sea and sky and our time with others. Even when it’s hard. Showing us that God thinks us worth something even when we hear from those smooth talking religious types that we’re worth less than washed up tilapia floundering on the beach.

When I think about him dying too much (and how can you not) it’s a giant millstone round my neck. Drags me under, drags me under. But this time, no one to look up to. No one to grab my hand. No one pulling me to the surface. No one calling my name, calling me forward, calling me to leave the boat. Feels like I left the boat, and now I’m looking for some half-remembered shore.

Maybe we’re all feeling some-a-that today. Maybe we all got a little turned around, not knowing which way’s up. Not knowing which way to look. Jesus was always at the front. And now here we are, in this circle, looking side to side, all round. You’re looking at me but that don’t seem quite right. Seems what we got is each other. And his memory. And the spirit of what he taught us. 

If this is what we got, it seems to me, we gotta look round. Look across the way. Catch someone’s eye. Acknowledge ‘em. Smile through the tears. Let ‘em know they’re gonna be okay. Let each other know we’re gonna make it through this mess together. 

Jesus isn’t up ahead. Not behind me where he ought. But we got each other, and we caught his dream. And though I’m the first to say I ain’t up to the task, that I messed this thing up a thousand times before the sun come up—maybe there’s still something to live for.  

I  guess what I’m saying is this. Just last night at supper, when he washed our feet, when he broke the bread, when he poured the wine, he gave us one to another. He gave us to each other, tellin’ us to love the world like it’s never been loved before. Come what may. Damn the consequences. Show the world and everything in it, it’s loved. With how you live. With how you love. With how you order your life. Not giving in to what the authorities say about who’s in and who’s out. It’s that kind of treasonous love that got the religious folk rattled. That got him killed in the end. The scandal with Jesus is that he’s known more for who he lets in than who he keeps out. And that—that always threatens those that want to preserve the old way.

And so, even tho I’m sayin these things. Tho I don’t mind sayin ‘em here. I’m still rattled. Still scared. Still too frightened to say much of much while the religious folk are still watching. Guess I’m just hoping, like my friend Nicodemus over there, that none of us are here to extinguish any more light. I don’t know I could take it. On today of all days.

I know I ramble. I’m still so shaken. But I want to tell you a story. I’ll tell you my story, and I want  you to think of yours. Tell me your story after the service. Or write it in the book of remembrance at the back on your way out. The story of why you loved Jesus so. The only way he’s gonna live on, best I can tell, is if we tell the stories, if we live the stories, if we give ourselves to the stories, to what he inspired in us. In all of us. To be our best selves. Our God-beloved selves. The beautiful child of God Jesus saw when we couldn’t see it in ourselves. The only way he’s gonna live on is if we start to believe what Jesus believed, and help others believe it too.   

I first met Jesus on the shore. We were fishing, my brother and I. Out there fishing, and from the boat see this wayfaring stranger come out to the point, and shout. Something about fish. It’s always about fish. 

From the looks of him, you can tell he’d never gone fishin’ a day in his life. He’s done some work, looks a bit rough round the edges, and he’s a talker too. He talks like no-one I ever heard before. He talks like a preacher, but he really seems to believe it. Really seems to believe in Healing, in Freedom, Loving Relationship. Talks in plain language. Paints a picture of a world I never seen. Kinda guy that talks about a world I can scarce imagine, one where I want to live.

Not this world and its evil. Treachery. Violence. Selfishness. Powerful so focused on preserving an order putting so many to death. A world where a few guys hold all the cards. The power. The money. People putting on airs, putting on appearances of caring. They show up at the right events, the right festivals. But it means nothing. Acting as though God cares about all that bluster. But people are dying. People are starving. Murdered. Those left are scared. Lonely. In despair.

Jesus washes up on shore, starts telling this story. Tells and retells this story, what he calls God’s dream for the world. Says such amazing things I can’t help but follow. I want in. Want to play my part. To throw in my lot with him, to be part of building this dream right here on earth. Cuz if God is a God of freedom, some king somewhere’s gotta let the people go.  

No more sitting on our hands. No more waiting on a miracle. No more bowing to religious folk who want to do it proper, all the while the people are properly suffering. Thing is, I never heard anyone talk like him before, never heard anyone talk to me like that before. As though, maybe, I can be part of this dream he was talking about. And if I could be part of it, the way I mess things up, so can you. 

That day on the water’s edge he calls us over, invites my brother and me to join him. And the words come bursting out before I know what I’m saying. Happens to me a lot, I suppose. The words come rushing out before I can stop to think. I drop everything and we go on the road. That’s when I start to see. That’s when we all start to see. It’s not just that he says such amazing things. He does em too. Reaches out. Touches. Heals. Restores. Tells the most beat up destitute person they’re God’s beloved, and acts like he means it. 

Because he means it. And you know it when he looks you in the eye. When he meets your gaze. When he says, I want you to know, you are God’s beloved. In God’s eyes you are enough. And there’s nothing. Not death, not life, not angels not powers, not politics not religion, not any blessed thing that can separate us from God’s love. Whatever they say.

And I believe it. On my better days I believe it. On my better days I believe that this dream: God’s dream, Jesus’ dream, Jesus’ dream of God’s dream, or whatever, on my better days I believe it with everything I got. 

And then there are days like today. 

In this room with Mary, sword piercing her side. Nicodemus, putting on a brave face to shine light in the dark. And you. Each and every one of you carrying all you’re carrying today. 

Each of you with your own stories. Your story of meeting Jesus. Of what he’s done in your life. Of the first time you met. Where you were when it all started. The sound of his voice, his invitation that still captivates your imagination. The voice that keeps inviting you to live so that all people, all creation can know that God’s love isn’t just some exclusive little club all prim and proper. No no. God’s love changes everything. 

I still like to imagine him like I saw him that first day. Waving madly from the shore, calling us in, amazing us with his story of God’s dream for a world where we all see that we are all related, all worthy, all deserving of God’s love. 

And even if he’s gone. Even if it is finished. I wonder what we could be together. I don’t know today if I’m ready to throw this dream aside. I’m rattled. Shaken. Still reeling in anger and shame. I’m all turned around. Worried. Scared even. Scared to death.

But with you. With all us together. With the flame of Jesus’ dream still flickering in our hearts. I wonder what might come next. 


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Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

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