“We say this of Mollie Holmes – our lives are a little richer as a consequence of her friendship and concern for us.”
Rev Andrew Sweeney of St Patrick’s Church of Ireland in Ballymoney paid this tribute to Mollie during her funeral service on Friday.
In his address, he told the packed church: “There are many universal principles that have their origin in the Bible: Like Newton’s third law of physics that states, ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’. Jesus says,“If you hunger for God you will be satisfied; If you show mercy, you will receive mercy; If you seek purity you will see God; If you’re rich towards God in the way you use your possessions he will be rich towards you”, and the Psalm Peter read today states that, “If you make God your dwelling he will grant you long life and protection”.
We give thanks for Mollie’s long and fruitful life. I have little doubt that her life of service to others found its origin in her faithfulness
towards God and the example of his Son, Jesus. He was her Lord, her Saviour and protector.
There are many references in the Gospels regarding the servant nature of Jesus. In Luke 22 the disciples are arguing about which of them was the greatest and Jesus says, “I am among you as one who serves”.(27b)
The other gospel writers record this same exchange with his followers by adding that greatness is to be found in a life of service to others.
So in our current culture where greatness is measured by the size of your bank balance, whether you’ve won ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here!’, the car you drive and the number of face book devotees you command, there is a sense among many today that it is better to do well than to be good.
Yet psychologist Martin Seligman says, ‘it is important not to succeed in what I do and fail in who I am’. He goes on to say,‘The belief that we can rely on shortcuts to happiness, joy, comfort and ecstasy, rather than be entitled to these feelings by exercise of personal strengths and virtues, leads to legions of people who in the middle of great wealth are starving spiritually. Positive emotion, alienated from the exercise of
character, leads to emptiness, to in-authenticity, and, as we age, to a gnawing realization that we are fidgeting until we die’.
Jesus understood that serving others ultimately is the way to a happy and fulfilled existence.
He wants us to leave this world a little changed for the better. He wants others to say of us, “My life is a little richer; my world is a little bigger; I’m a better person because I have had the pleasure of being associated with this human being. They make a difference. They change lives”
We say this of Mollie Holmes – our lives are a little richer as a consequence of her friendship and concern for us. It was our privilege to have known her.
I love this quote by George Bernard Shaw, ‘This is the true joy of life; the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one, being a force of nature rather than a feverish selfish little cloud of ailments complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you
You see, we are built for meaning, the way Porsches are built for speed!
Mollie was an example and inspiration to us all of a woman who had found her meaning in life and pursued it with great energy, wisdom and no little amount of integrity.
One hundred years ago, the social critic John Ruskin wrote, ‘There is no wealth but life – life, including all its powers of love, of joy and of admiration. That country is richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest influence to help the lives of others’.
In this little part of our island Molly sought, through her civic influence, to help the lives of others – to nourish the greatest number of noble and happy human beings and we are deeply grateful to her for doing so. I have little doubt that Molly has been an inspiration to us because God has been an inspiration to her.
She knew that we are spiritual beings who hunger for meaning. She knew that contentment does not come through the acquisition of wealth but is a
product of the way we think and the way we live, and at the heart of her life she was thankful to God for his goodness and provision.
In the middle of our sorrow we have so much to give thanks to God for today. We could have been born in Syria, Sudan, Nigeria etc.
A young businessman always made it his business to ask older men their regrets. At the top of their list was “I was so busy trying to improve my
family’s standard of living that, before I knew it, my children were grown and gone, and I never got to know them. Now they are too busy for me”.
Life is too precious to leave it full of regrets. John Ortberg, in another one of his challenging and immensely readable books, suggests four
regrets that people often mention when they get to the end of their lives:
I would have loved more deeply, I would have laughed more often, I would have given more generously, I would have lived more boldly, We always think that there will eventually be time to do all these things that we never have the time to do. My father looked forward to retirement to
spend more time with my mum – he died at the age of fifty three!
Leo Tolstoy commented,‘What if my life, my conscious life, has not been the right thing?’
It seems a real shame to me if we wait for a crisis before we consider what really is essential about life – I see it often. Wouldn’t it be better to re-order our way of thinking and our way of operating to consider what it might be like to live life without regret?
That is certainly the way Mollie lived her life.
I wonder what would Mollie want to say to us today about matters of faith? Live your faith quietly – beware of those who shout the loudest about it,be confident in the promises of God, let the life of Jesus Christ inspire your living, let His life of service and sacrifice be your daily
pattern, endeavour to practice love, find your strength in the hope of the cross.
I finish by paying tribute to another – James, Mollie’s devoted son. I have little doubt James, that without you, Mollie would never have enjoyed the long and fruitful life that she had. You have been her tower of strength right to the end of her life and today our prayers are with you.”