There is a story Jesus told about a man who entrusted his servants with his possessions. To one servant he gave 5 talents - that was 5 sacks of treasure. To another he gave 2 sacks of treasure. To another 1 sack of treasure. To each of his servants he gave these talents, or sacks of treasure, and then left them to take care of what they had been given.
We know the way the story goes. The man who had 1 sack of treasure buried it in the ground. He did nothing with what he had been given. But the ones who had 2 sacks and 5 sacks of treasure, they invested what they had and made great interest. When the master came back he greeted them with these words: “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!”
All of us here this afternoon know that Joy was a woman given great sacks of treasures by God. She was given a devoted husband in, you, Phil. She was given great sisters and two fantastic sisters-in-law. She was given the four of you: four wonderful kids. She was given 13 amazing grandkids. She was given a beautiful home. She was given a chance to go back to school as an adult. She was given a loving church, our church. Here’s what I want to celebrate about God this afternoon: He gave Joy great sacks of treasure.
And here’s what I want to celebrate about Joy this afternoon: Every single one of those treasures God gave her, Joy invested and made great interest. She turned that marriage into something to be celebrated. She grew those kids into fine, respectable, kind Christian people. She turned her extended family into a culture of love and kindness. She turned her home into a refuge for the homeless. She turned her college degree into an opportunity to love forgotten kids in her job at the school for the disadvantaged. She grew our church. She shone the light of her faith wherever she went. Her whole life was an extension of what you told me Danny: “Mom could take one can of tuna and turn it into a meal to feed everyone.” Joy took every single sack—every single speck!—of treasure God gave her and turned it into more and more.
When I think about this quiet day, with only a few of us here at this graveside, I know that it doesn’t seem like we are doing much to honor such a great, godly woman. But I want you to remember Jesus’ story, about what the Master did for those who invested their sacks of treasure. He threw a party! Please understand, it doesn’t really matter what we do down here. Because there is a party in heaven today, far beyond what we could ever possibly organize. Because Joy has returned home at the end of a long hard day’s work on this earth. A long hard day’s work of taking the treasure God had given, and turning it into more. And God celebrates the ones who do that. So today, know that as we are here without her, know God is with Joy, celebrating her today, calling out “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things now I will put you in charge of many things.” Today Joy Terenzoni enters into the joy of her Master.
Alison Gerber is the former pastor of Second Congregational Church in Peabody MA, now a PhD in Preaching student at Truett Seminary/Baylor University in Waco TX.