Preached by the Very Rev. J.C. Michael Allen at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, August 14, 2010
In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you so where I am you may be also.
We gather together this morning to celebrate the life our brother Ken Dickinson.
We gather together at the table he loved, the table where he was nourished and loved all his life.
It is a table totally unlike any other table in our world. It is a table to which each and every one of us is invited. No one is turned away. Everyone who comes to this table receives the same morsel of bread and the same sip of wine. It is enough to sustain us on our journey toward the holy mountain, the holy city to which we are all headed.
At this table we do not accept nor do we condone the ways of this world, the way we separate people from each other, separating rich and poor, male and female, gay and straight, black and white, and all the other ways we use to demean and belittle the people around us.
No, at this table all are equal, all are loved, and all are fed the same food in the same amounts.
This is the table which promises it is only a beginning, only a foretaste of what is to come at the great heavenly banquet to which all of us will be invited, the table to which Ken has now gone, the place of life and love and peace and joy.
Ken loved this table. He was nourished by it over many, many years. And in his years at this Cathedral he took his part.
And often enough his part was to play his violin during the Sunday service bringing life and beauty to our worship.
I have a vision of Ken at the heavenly banquet playing his violin with the heavenly orchestra as the people around him join in the dance as they prepare for the meal in all its fullness.
It will no longer be a morsel of bread and a sip of wine, but a feast of all the delicacies and the delights of life, rich meats, fine wines, and more than enough for all to have their share. It will be
all that the prophet Isaiah imagined in his vision of the heavenly banquet.
Ken is there waiting for us. He is calling to come and join him, waiting for us to dance to his music, and rejoice that we are joined together with all those we have ever loved and who ever loved us.
In the meantime we make our journey towards the heavenly city, moving from mansion to mansion, each full of its own joys and sorrows, all of them preparing us for that great mansion we can only dream of now.
Each of us has our stories of those times and places we have been together with Ken as we now reflect on his life.
I first knew him in college. It was 1947. The place was Harvard. Ken had come back from the war. I had come back from the army, but not the war itself. I was four years younger than Ken.
Ken never talked about his experience of the war. Not then.
Only in recent years did he talk of it. I never knew until now that he was a hero in that war. But that was Ken in his simplicity and modesty.
We immediately became close. We lived across the courtyard from each other at Leveret House. We ate together. We drank together. And above all we moved from bull session to bull session as we pursued the heart of our college education.
He was the first of my friends to whom I introduced Priscilla Morison. I wanted my friends to love her as I loved her and he did and they did.
And that is why Ken was an usher at our wedding, one of the young men who stood by my side as Priscilla and I exchanged our marriage vows. It was a blessed moment and Ken was part of it.
Each of us has our story to tell of our times with Ken. Each of us knew him at different times, in different places – different mansions as we made our way together towards the heavenly city.
Those moments were precious to me and those moments have been precious to each of us here. As we remember Ken we do well to dwell on them, share them, and find life in them.
There are many mansions we have all lived in, times when each of us has had our moments with Ken as we made our journey towards the holy mountain, the heavenly city for which this table as we gather this morning is but a foretaste of what is to come.
It is because we have experienced these deep and mysterious things of life in each mansion that we can believe that a greater mansion lies ahead,
Jesus spoke to his frightened friends, frightened at the prospect of the death he was about to die. He spoke to them of the many mansions in God’s house and the mansion to which he was going to prepare a place for them
To prepare a place for them and for us.
For me and perhaps for you as well it is the experience of this presence of God in each of the moments in our lives that have built the trust that the God who has been faithful to us in this life will be faithful to us at the end of our lives. We know now that God is faithful and will always be so.
It is because we have gathered here at this table, this extraordinary table that goes against all the practices and the structures of this life that we can believe that a far greater table lies ahead for us as we move from mansion to mansion in our father’s house.
We can believe that Ken is now preparing a place for us, preparing the feast, playing his music to lead the dance to which we are all called.
In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am you may be also.
Those are the words of Jesus but they are also the words of Ken Dickinson who waits for us to join him at the great heavenly table. He is calling us now. Can you hear him?