Myra Maureen Frazier 1968-2011
Martha and Mary were sisters. Their brother Lazarus had been sick. They had called for their dear friend Jesus, knowing that He was of God. The text is clear, it says “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” He delays going, and when he does go his disciples try to talk him out of going because the region around Bethany was too dangerous with people trying to stone him and others already conspiring to have him arrested. As further sign of his deep love, Jesus replies, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.”
Meanwhile, Martha and Mary are at home sitting shiva, the Jewish custom of mourning. Friends and neighbors surround them, much as we come to be with Myra's family and one another as we seek comfort and consolation at having lost “our friend,” Myra. Word comes to the sisters that Jesus has approached the outskirts of Bethany. Always the practical one, always the one seeing to it that others needs are met, Martha goes to meet Jesus before he gets to the house. She has some business with him that is better kept at a distance from the house and those who are comforting the family – she seems to want to spare them hearing what she has to say.
And what she has to say is what we all want to say at a time like this: Lord, if you had been here, Lord if you had heard our prayers, Lord if you had done something, come sooner, our brother Lazarus would not have had to die! Martha is not a shy one. She may appear so while taking care of others, busy behind the scenes, but when the times demanded it she could stand up to anyone, including Jesus.
Jesus tells her that Lazarus will rise again. Martha, believing he is talking about some hypothetical future when all the dead shall rise again says in effect, “Sure, sure, we all know that, but I am talking about now.” Jesus responds, “I am now. I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha immediately knows he is right. Martha immediately sees Jesus as if for the first time – He is of God, He is resurrection, He is life. And speaking on behalf of all of us here this morning, and for all people who mourn at all times and in all places, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, the text continues, she went and told Mary who got up and left the house to go see Jesus, and everyone in the house followed. Jesus saw Mary and everyone with her weeping and was “deeply moved.” They go to the tomb, Jesus calls Lazarus out, and orders everyone, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
This is the hard part. This is the hard part for all of us: letting go. We are here because we love Myra and all that she was, is and continues to be: daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, friend, and someone who reached out to help those in deep need, the underserved, and this earth, our fragile island home. It is doubly hard for everyone here, since it is likely to be some time before we have any idea exactly how she died, how it is that she has been taken away from us.
What we can be certain of, however, is that Myra had courage and desire like Martha to tackle two of the most important problems facing the world today: the ecology/environmental problem and the economic problem. Myra was out in front, like Martha, alerting us to what can be done in both arenas, and doing something about it. Lives have been changed, and the very structure of the earth has been changed and preserved as a result of her dedication, knowledge and will.
As we come to mourn and comfort one another, we also come to remember and celebrate the life of this remarkable woman.
Myra received her law degree from Duke University
She began her nearly 15 years of experience in the energy and environmental fields as a Fulbright Fellow in Libreville, Gabon, Africa.
She later worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency implementing technical cooperation between the US and South African Governments, focused on energy plicy planning, air quality management and climate mitigation strategies.
Myra also worked on the litigation team that negotiated the Consent Agreement Final Order with the Concentrated Animal Feedlot industry - an agreement accepted by over 8,000 farms in 37 states.
Recently she has been a contract attorney for a variety of energy and technology companies,
And perhaps her greatest passion has been working to help families in Maryland avoid foreclosure on their homes.
And here at St. Peter's she has been an extraordinary advisor to our Green Team, and has served on the Bishop of Maryland's Task Force On The Environment for the past few years.
Several people have submitted Tributes to Myra which we would like to share with you now....
The most basic truth of the Judeo-Christian religion is that we come from Love, we return to Love and Love is all around. God is Love. Myra now knows this. Just as Martha goes before everyone else to greet Jesus at the edge of town, so Myra has gone ahead of us to meet and be greeted by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Myra has been and will continue to be so much a part of God’s love surrounding us on all sides – she brought us all closer to God, closer to each other and closer to ourselves. What a wonderful life’s work!
How fitting that the church is decorated for Easter – The Feast of the Resurrection. The Paschal Candle, first lit on Easter Eve in the darkness shines brightly - the light that shines in the Darkness, the light of Christ. The Light that John says the Darkness has not and cannot overcome. It stands near the Baptismal Font, marking that place where we enter into the fellowship of Christ’s Body, the Church, The entry point into eternal life.
For we are those people who believe that life is changed, not ended, at death. And when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens.
Once baptized into the body of Christ, St. Paul asserts "neither death, nor life, nor angels , nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Myra knows this to be true. She has been unbound. She is set free. She now joins with Martha and all those who throughout the ages proclaim, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
So we come to mourn. We come to comfort one another. We come to remember and celebrate and give thanks for a life faithfully lived and more faithfully set free. And we come to affirm our faith, Myra's faith, and the faith of the Church.
A Catholic priest and monk, Henri Nouwen, observed on the death of his mother: In those confusing weeks after my mother’s death I said to myself, “This is a time of waiting for the Spirit of truth to come, and woe unto me, if by forgetting her, I prevent her from doing God’s work in me.” I sensed that something much more than a filial act of remembering was at stake, much more than an honoring of my dead mother, much more than holding on to her beautiful example. Very specifically, what was at stake was the life of the Spirit in me. To remember her does not mean telling her story over and over again to my friends, nor does it mean pictures on the wall or a stone at her grave; it does not even mean constantly thinking about her. No. It means making her an active participant of God’s ongoing work of redemption by allowing her to dispel in me a little more of my darkness and lead me a little closer to the light. In these weeks of mourning she died in me more and more every day, making it impossible for me to cling to her as my mother. Yet by letting her go I did not lose her. Rather, I found that she is closer to me than ever. In and through the Spirit of Christ, she indeed, is becoming a part of my very being.
[In Memoriam, p. 60]
Myra is now at one with God's light, the Light of Christ. She came to this church week after week and affirmed this. She stood in this church week after week the past few years to affirm her faith in Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let us stand, turning to page 496 in the Red Book of Common Prayer, and In the assurance of eternal life given at Baptism, let us proclaim our faith: