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A Service of the Resurrection and the Life of Ellen Leigh

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adam-anderson · Service of Celebration for Ellen Leigh


I try to think about the Scripture that people select as a window into someone's life. I believe in the Reformed/PCUSA idea of this service - it is a witness to the resurrection.  So I'm trying to see how the risen Savior is at work in someone's life.  From there, I listen to stories, get a feeling of who someone is to others.  I keep it short, direct, and only hinting at one move (I've been most persuaded by David Buttrick's "moves" in sermons, so I try to make only one "move").

Ellen was lovely person, and a joy to have started to get to know.

Scripture Isa 43:1-7

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”


  • Today, as you were coming in, no doubt you saw the series of pictures that Nancy provided us to be able to create a slideshow to celebrate Ellen.
    • I have a little confession to make – I often don’t spend a lot of time looking at those photos. Often times back and forth checking on people, they tend to fade into the background.
    • But on this occasion, I had a chance to actually prepare the slide show, so I had a chance to look at hundreds of photos intently.
  • When you start to look at a bunch of photos all at once, you can start to see consistency in someone. There are tells.
    • Ellen had some tells in here photo
      • Such and easy smile! Never seemed forced, but was always confident, joyful.
      • She was very consistent with the way she would pose in group pictures.
    • More often than not, she had a hand on someone – a gentle reminder of her presence.
    • And of course, she was so sweet with varying children. Her smile almost seemed the brightest when she had a baby in her arms.
  • The tells in her photos that speak to her life is that Ellen was a confident caretaker.
    • This was present throughout the time I knew her here
      • Her efforts were always in the care of others – Shepherding, inviting others into pastoral care.
      • She brought people into the fold – so often she’s in the center of the photos... not as the center of attention, but as the center that others could orbit near... she had a gravity to her that helps others find their movement and rotation.
  • In the passage today, the people of God have found themselves displaced, and Isa reminds them of what God says: that no matter what happens, no matter what the circumstance, the people will be loved and cared for. This reminds us of Jesus as well, who lamented how badly he wanted to draw in the people of Israel in like a mother hen and her chicks.
    • This is the heart of Christ in the heart of Ellen – always there, always a gentle touch, always drawing in, always caretaking.
    • And what is the joy of moments like this and the others that just like these photographs, the moments where Ellen has been with you are still present to you. Ellen’s impact does not leave you, nor does she. She can still provide gravity to our orbits.
  • Thanks be to God for Ellen Leigh.

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