Funeral Homily for Mark Andrew Johnston

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Church


“Mark, where have you gone?”

“Oh, don’t you worry; Mark always comes home.”

I can imagine this is how the dialogue must have gone

Among the neighborhood kids and siblings

After a game of hide-and-go-seek in the woods

40 years ago.

Having belonged to such a gang myself,

I know how boys get along when out playing in the woods.

Truth is revealed to aging parents only well into adulthood

And at just the right opportunity;

Which is the way it should be.

One way or another, Mark always found his way home.

Whether is was a trip to Philmont,

Going fishing with the neighbors,

Or hanging out in Sunday school here at the church,

“Shorty” (who was anything but short),

The “Gentle Giant” Mark,

Always found his way back home.

Home was the Johnston family Sunday brunch,

The family camp sites at Disney

And the annual Johnston family golf tournament.

Home for Mark was playing in the yard with Lexie and Jaden,

And every other child – cousin, nephew, niece, or neighbor

Who gave him an excuse to drop everything and just go play with the kids.

Mark’s home was at Zion’s annual Turkey Dinner making the squash

And sitting with the family

Right over here in front of the piano.

“Mark, where have you gone?”

“Oh, don’t you worry; Mark always comes home.”

Today, Mark has gone home.

It is not the home that we expected.

In fact, some of us are pretty angry, and rightly so, that Mark has left us.

All of us are sad, sad to tears, that he will be absent from our midst.

Every last one of us would wish him back in a heartbeat,

If only that was an option.

But know this to be true:

Just as Jesus promised to go a prepare a place for each of us in our Father’s heavenly kingdom,

So too, has Mark gone to be with our Lord,

To prepare our home,

For the time when we will come and join him

Around Christ’s heavenly throne.

Home is more than house,

More than blood family,

More than friends and neighbors.

Home is more than work, and toil, and the struggles of everyday life.

Home is eternal;

The next room of the same house into which Mark has entered,

Where, one day, we will join him.

Home is love.

Home is love poured full to overflowing,

Cascading down from God, who first gave it.

Love satisfies our thirst and floats us through our darkest days.

It is in God’s love that Mark was given life.

It is in God’s love that Mark found his home here on earth.

And it is in God’s love where Mark now resides eternally in God’s heavenly home.

Today we celebrate Mark returning home.

Really, he’s never left us.

He’s simply gone before us,

Where one day,

Together with our Lord,

By his mercy, grace, and love,

We, too, will be welcomed home.

“Mark, where have you gone?”

Oh, don’t you worry.

Mark has made his way home.