Skip to comments.Text: Homily of former Sen. John Danforth at Reagan funeral
Posted on 06/11/2004 9:56:35 PM PDT by Valin
May I speak in the name of one god, who created us, who redeemed us, who comforts us. Amen.
This is a service about Ronald Reagan, and it is a religious service. We've gathered to celebrate the life of a great president in a church where believers profess their faith. So this is not only about a person, but about faith. And the homily is the place to connect the two.
For President Reagan, the text is obvious. It's from the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid."
It was his favorite theme, from his first inaugural address to his final address from the Oval Office. For him, America was the shining city on a hill.
His immediate source was the sermon preached by John Winthrop, just read by Justice O'Connor.
Winthrop believed that the eyes of the world would be on America because God had given us a special commission, so it was our duty to shine forth. The Winthrop message became the Reagan message. It rang of optimism, and we longed to hear it, especially after the dark years of Vietnam and Watergate.
It was a vision with policy implications. America could not hide its light under a bushel. It could not turn in on itself and hunker down. Isolationism was not an option; neither was protectionism. We must champion freedom everywhere. We must be the beacon for the world.
What Ronald Reagan asked of America, he gave of himself. The great American theologian Reinhold Neibuhr wrote "Children of Light and The Children of Darkness." If ever we have known a child of light, it was Ronald Reagan. He was aglow with it. He had no dark side, no scary, hidden agenda. What you saw, was what you got. And what you saw was that sure sign of inner light, the twinkle in the eye.
He was not consumed by himself. He didn't need to be president to be a complete person. The only thing he really needed was to be with his wife.
Mrs. Reagan, you shared him with us, and for that we will always be grateful.
He shined the light, but not upon himself.
Personally modest, he disclaimed the title the great communicator and claimed only to communicate great things from the heart of a great nation.
He liked to laugh, especially at himself.
There was nothing petty or mean-spirited about him. Even his opponents liked him.
I recall sitting at a table with President Reagan and Speaker O'Neill listening to their jokes. It was the opposite of negative politics.
He inspired devotion more than fear.
Mike Deaver wrote, "There was something about him that made you want to please him and do your best." This applied to everybody. It certainly applied to those of us who served in Congress.
His most challenging test came on the day he was shot. He wrote in his diary of struggling for breath and of praying.
"I realized that I couldn't ask for God's help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed-up young man who shot me," he wrote.
"Isn't that the meaning of the lost sheep? We are all God's children, and therefore equally loved by Him. So I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back to the fold."
He was a child of light.
Now consider the faith we profess in this church. Light shining in darkness is an ancient biblical theme. Genesis tells us that in the beginning, darkness was upon the face of the deep. Some equate this darkness with chaos.
And God said, "Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good."
Creating light in darkness is God's work.
You and I know the meaning of darkness. We see it on the evening news: terror, chaos, war. An enduring image of 9/11 is that on a brilliantly clear day a cloud of darkness covered Lower Manhattan.
Darkness is real, and it can be terrifying. Sometimes it seems to be everywhere. So the question for us is what do we do when darkness surrounds us?
St. Paul answered that question. He said we must walk as children of light. President Reagan taught us that this is our mission, both as individuals and as a nation.
The faith proclaimed in this church is that when we walk as children of light, darkness cannot prevail. As St. John's gospel tells us, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."
That's true even of death. For people of faith, death is no less awful than for anyone else, but the Resurrection means that death is not the end.
The Bible describes the most terrible moment in these words: "When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until in the afternoon."
That was the darkness of Good Friday. It did not prevail. Very early on the first day of the week when the sun had risen, that's the beginning of the Easter story.
The light shines; the Lord is risen.
In this service of worship, we celebrate the life of a great president, and we profess the resurrection faith of this church. It is faith in God's victory over darkness. It is faith in the ultimate triumph of light.
We believe in this victory every day of our lives. We believe it as individuals. We believe it as a nation.
There is no better time to celebrate the triumph of life than in a service for Ronald Reagan. Amen
THANK YOU VALIN! I absolutely LOVED this from Reverend Dansforth!
I thought Danforth was terrible. Dull, plodding, and superficial. And the above line unwittingly condemned Ronald Reagan as a lousy father. What the hell kind of compliment is it to say of a father of four, that he only really needed to be with his wife? I love my wife, but for me, the sun rises and sets on my son. I could see someone loving his wife and child equally (in theory, anyway), but to say that a father only needed his wife, is to diminish the man.
I thought that Mrs. Thatcher, in spite of her infirmities, was the most eloquent speaker, in her taped talk. Pres. Bush the Younger had some good lines, but his diction was hampered by his almost ubiquitous discomfort at public speaking. And Brian Mulroney was good -- the man has a very pleasant voice. But for me, by far the most moving speaker was Pres. Bush the Elder. The words weren't such that they would have jumped off the written page, if you hadn't seeen him deliver them, choking on tears. I also admired the fact that Pres. Bush (I) was the only person I heard all week, who mentioned the late Maureen Reagan. She was such a devoted daughter (unlike Patti Davis), and died so prematurely, that it was unforgivable for so many talking heads to act as if she had never lived.
He was inspiring, uplifting, and gracious.
Reagan was Nancy's husband. He happened to have children, but he loved his wife, first.
Like it or not, Ronald Reagan lived for Nancy, and she for him.
I heard it and liked it. I thought it was more overtly Christian than one usually hears from an Episcopal pulpit on such occasions. Really laid it out that the terrorists represent evil. I bet the moslems in crowd were not happy.
I'm waiting for the ACLU to file a suit.
Seems like a veiled swipe at Billy Jefferson Clinton...
I understand and agree with the reference he made about President Reagan needing only his wife. That doesn't diminish the love a parent has for their children,but a loving spouse "completes" a person in a special way that no other relationship can. Children grow up,marry,have spouses and families of their own. You grow old with your husband or wife,you share a life with them until death do you part.You love your children,but it's not them that you lean on when you need support(who would put that on their children anyway?),you turn to your spouse. That seems perfectly natural to me.
I also think that grown children who can't understand this perfectly natural special relationship have some insecurity issues.
Maureen Reagan has an adopted daughter, so where was she?
She should have been easy to spot, for she is black, and she is from Uganda. Her adopted father was there, and her name is Rita Revell.
Did you look over by Cameron and Ashley?
Rev. Danforth seemed to break down at the casket in California after the service (at least I thought it was Danforth, the feed I saw showed a sort of weird angle). I thoroughly enjoyed his words and presence during the day.
Actually I heard Maureen mentioned several times by the press. Especially since her husband was traveling with the family, I heard several commentators make reference to to him and to her death.
The Old Geezer, Stretch here: Danforth was the wrong man for this. Lets not forget DANFORTH was the cover-up man for the WACO fiasco.... Did the investigation and the final report clearing RENO AND CLINTOON in the massacure of the CHILDREN and women???
...the Reagan message. It rang of optimism, and we longed to hear it...It was a vision with policy implications. America could not hide its light under a bushel. It could not turn in on itself and hunker down. Isolationism was not an option; neither was protectionism. We must champion freedom everywhere. We must be the beacon for the world. What Ronald Reagan asked of America, he gave of himself...If ever we have known a child of light, it was Ronald Reagan. He was aglow with it. He had no dark side, no scary, hidden agenda. What you saw, was what you got.
I saw this as a counter to all of those who think that conservatives all have "scary hidden agendas" that they must lie to cover up. They said it about Reagan and they have been forced to eat their words. They scream it daily about Bush and ...
Ron Reagan Jr. on the other hand-and I wretch every time I compare that little twerp to the man who was his namesake-was horrendous.
There should really be some kind of federal law that muzzles that idiot.
Either that, or one requiring that someone halfway intelligent, like Michael Reagan or G. Gordon Liddy be forced to offer a ten minute rebuttal to whatever hogwash just came out of his mouth.
Like it or not, Ronald Reagan lived for Nancy, and she for him.
Rather than contradicting my criticism, you merely reiterated it, as if it were a virtue to be a neglectful father. A man can "happen to" be lefthanded; a man cannot "happen to" have four children. Sheesh, you sound like a DUer, for cryin' out loud!
I'm sure he didn't intend it that way.
It's no big deal.
I watched the whole thing this morning and I thought Sen. Danforth was fine. He happens to be a DD. Not many people who have been through the Senate are.
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