“I’m no saint!”, is the response from most people when someone starts to heap praise upon them for some good thing they have done. We are all too aware of our faults and if we aren’t, there are usually a few close friends and family who are!
Last Wednesday we said farewell to one of our “saints”. June Cohen was just a couple of weeks short of her 91st birthday when she died. We farewelled her with the style and passion with which she lived. There was a large attendance at her funeral and thanksgiving service at the Tatura Uniting Church. We extend our sympathies to her husband Peter and the family.
June was an active member of the Uniting Church for many years in Tatura to the very end of her life. She was a fine Christian woman, who lived out her faith. She was an Elder and a worship leader and over the years she had taught Sunday School, had been our emergency-emergency organist, and Secretary for the Church Fellowship.
June was also very active in the Tatura community. Since June and Peter moved onto a dairy farm in the district back in 1960 June put her considerable energies and talents into service of the community. June coached junior tennis, was on the Ladies Committee of the football club, the Mooroopna Hospital Auxiliary, baked cakes, contributed to fundraising, taught migrants English. After moving into Tatura June immersed herself in church and community, taking on the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer for the Tatura Bowls Club Ladies Committee. June was a “doer”. She had been a member of the Tatura Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Harston CWA, The Tatura CAE Book Club, Rodney Arts Society, Tatura Painting Group, the Red Cross, Myola Lodge Auxiliary, Tatura Historical Society, the Tatura Community Bulletin.
So why was she a “saint”? The Protestant tradition doesn’t have official saints like our Roman Catholic friends, so I’m not trying to put June up there with Francis of Assisi or Mary McKillop but I’m using the word as the Apostle Paul used it, that is, to refer to ordinary Christians as when he wrote to the young church at Corinth “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints”.
June wasn’t perfect but she was a good woman, who loved God and loved others. As one of her daughters said at her funeral, “the kitchen was always full of the smell of cakes and cooking but we knew that most of the best treats were not for us. They were to be given away for fundraising or for others.”
Being a saint is not about being perfect. It is about being real, making mistakes, being forgiven, taking and giving the second chance, believing you are loved unconditionally by God and living in grace and serving others. It is in such saints that we see the face of God at work in the world.
Oscar Wilde said “The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
Jesus came into this world to save sinners.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister