On behalf of the family of Dr. Trevor Hodge, I want to thank all of you for being here this morning.
Of course, I want to thank you for the way your presence here gives comfort to his family; but more than that, I want to thank you for the way I believe your presence here gives hope for the entire world!
For you have come here this morning to celebrate and to remember a life that was dedicated to loving and healing this world.
Every Sunday, our church gathers around this table to celebrate and remember the life of another who was also dedicated to loving and healing this world. We share bread. We drink from a cup, and we listen to his words: “Do this in remembrance of me.” If you want to celebrate my life, says Jesus, if you want to remember my life, then do this. Live on earth as I lived. Love the world as I loved. Welcome, accept, forgive, embrace, touch, and heal. Do this.
It is my hope that all who are here to remember and celebrate Trevor’s life understand that best way to do that, is to do it, to live and love as he lived and loved.
Because, my friends, that is what I believe our broken world needs now more than anything else. And I believe the love that Dr. Hodge shared with his patients, the love that this father shared with his children, his family, his wife, his community, has the power to heal this world.
On Valentine’s Day six years ago, Rev. Don Hubbard, a member of this church and former chaplain at Sparks Hospital, had the honor of officiating the marriage ceremony that celebrated and affirmed the love that Trevor and Penny shared with one another.
It was just a few weeks into their marriage when Trevor was diagnosed with cancer. Penny has said that “cancer was their marriage.” Thus, there are probably some, some who do not know any better, who would say: “What a tragic and heartbreaking marriage.” However, what they failed to factor in, and Penny will testify to this, is the power of love.
The diagnosis was grim. Of all people, Dr. Hodge knew it. Understandably, his first thoughts were to concede to the inevitability of it.
However, the love that Penny and Trevor had, that was affirmed weeks earlier during their wedding, does not concede.
For they affirmed the love that the Apostle Paul wrote about in the scripture that Rev. Hubbard read at their wedding from 1 Corinthians 13.
“If I speak in the tongues of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
In a dark world, where even religious voices can be among the most hate-filled voices, by loving others the way Trevor Hodge loved others, we have the blessed opportunity to be a shining beacon of love that has the power to change the world.
The Apostle continues…
Love is patient.
Love is in it for the long-haul. It never quits. It doesn’t give up, give in or give out. Love is unrelenting, dedicated, and determined. Even when it would take Dr. Hodge two and a half hours to get dressed, and that’s with Penny’s help; even when he could no longer walk, it was a persistent, persevering, and patient love that got him to his office.
Love is kind.
Rev. Hubbard says that anytime he ever conversed with Dr. Hodge, whether it was about the chaplaincy and pastoral care, which Dr. Hodge believed wholeheartedly in, his grandfather, philosophy, fishing, fishing lures, literature, religion or politics, he noticed that Dr. Hodge always wore this half-smile on his face that exuded kindness, a kindness that it soothes all pain and heals all wounds. It shelters and protects.
Thus, it shouldn’t surprise us when we discovered that Trevor kept most of his pain private. He never wanted to bring pain to another, especially the ones he loved.
Love is not envious or boastful. It is not arrogant or rude.
Thirteenth century German theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart is often credited with the following quote: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ that will be enough.”
I believe it is enough, because I believe that this simple prayer indicates that one understands that all of life is a free gift of God’s amazing grace.
I believe there are basically two types of people in this world: People who get the concept of grace and people who don’t get it. People who fail to see the grace of it all are usually not what we call “nice” people. They are boastful and rude. They act as if they have somehow earned their life, done something to deserve it. They walk around with this air that the world owes them something. In their arrogance, they become hostile if life does not go their way. After all, they deserve better.
Then there are those like Trevor Hodge who get it, who truly understand the sheer grace of it all. They understand that all of life is gift. It is unearned and undeserved. It is mysteriously and utterly precious. And these are the ones we generally call “nice” people or “gracious people.”
Love doesn’t insist on its own way.
It is flexible, pliable, and sensitive. It cares for others more than self. It is never “me first.” It is always willing to change courses, take another path, choose another way to love and help others.
One day, walking in Queens, New York when he was young, Trevor’s life changed forever. A student of drama and English literature, medical school was nowhere in Trevor’s future. As he was walking along, he heard this terrible commotion behind him. When he turned around, he saw a man, the victim of a horrific stabbing, lying on the ground, bleeding to death. Trevor said he had never felt more helpless in his life. In that moment, he promised God and himself that he would never be helpless in a situation like that again. He soon enrolled in medical school and never looked back. Even near the end of his life, Trevor’s concern was always for others, his patients, his family and his community.
Love is not irritable or resentful.
It isn’t touchy or cold. It isn’t easily offended, indignant or bitter. It is good-humored, warm and hospitable. It never complains.
And if anyone had any reason to complain it was Trevor. To work as hard as he worked, to care for others as much as he cared for others, without the opportunity to enjoy a well-earned retirement, would make even the sweetest personality bitter. The truth is: a diagnosis like Trevor’s changes most people for the worse.
But not Trevor. Trevor remained grateful for the gift of every day, no matter how difficult that day was. That half-smile he wore as he visited with you never diminished.
Trevor loved to tease and had a great sense of humor. Dr. Auturo Meade, a doctor here from Mexico, remembers Trevor incessantly bragging on his children. “He was so proud of his kids,” Dr. Meade says. “But he was especially proud when his daughter made a movie for one of her classes, a Mexican film that featured Mexican bandits. He was always coming up to me telling me I needed to see this film she made about some bandits from Mexico.”
Love does not keep account of mistakes.
It doesn’t keep score of the sins of others. It doesn’t “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” It never thinks: “I am better than he” or “I am more holy than she.” It never judges, condemns, or discriminates.
People like Trevor who truly understand the grace of it all, that life itself is gift, are the first to extend grace to others.
Love is truthful.
It isn’t perfect, but it’s honest. It’s real. It’s authentic. And it’s all the more forgiving, all the more gracious, because of that.
More than one person has told me that they did not know of a pretentious bone in Trevor’s body. Unlike some with the intellect and talent of Dr. Hodge, he never made anyone feel that they were less human than he. John Mundy, a respiratory therapist said: “Whenever I saw him at the hospital, he would always talk to me as if I was his equal. He was always easy to relate to, and he never met a stranger.” I believe that his humanity enabled him to do something that is lacking in our country today—to truly empathize with others.
Love bears all things.
It is courageous and generous. It is self-expending and sacrificial. It bends over backwards. It is always willing to go out of its way, take an extra step, even walk an extra mile.
In a fight like the one Trevor had with cancer, many would have thrown in the towel years ago. But Trevor had brave, self-denying love in his corner, which helped him, in the words of the Apostle Paul, to fight a good fight. When we have love in our corner, there is no mountain we can’t climb.
Love believes all things.
It always looks for the good, for the very best in the other or the situation, even if that best is sometimes buried deeply or covered completely. It is positive and encouraging.
Although he was sick, every day was a gift. Although he was weak, every moment was grace. In the end, Trevor did not have the life that he expected, but he was very grateful for the life that he had. Perhaps that is why Trevor always told us he was ok, because to Trevor, he was always ok. No matter the situation, he was always blessed.
Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, and no fading of its hope.
Love can outlast anything. It can not be silenced. It can never be defeated. Love always wins. It still stands when all else has fallen.
Love reveals how powerless an enemy as formidable as cancer truly is. Just when we are tempted to believe that there is nothing that cancer cannot destroy, we meet a man like Dr. Trevor Hodge, and we learn with the anonymous author of the following words that there are many things that cancer cannot do.
Cancer cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot invade the soul.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.
And the good news is that there is nothing that love cannot do. Love can change everything.
Love can transform sorrow into joy, despair into hope and death into life.
Love—unconditional, unreserved, unrelenting love—can transform six, tragic, heart-breaking years of marriage with cancer into six amazing, heart-fulfilling years of marital bliss.
Love can transform a funeral service into a service of celebration
Love can heal a broken world.
Love can bring down walls and break chains.
Love can cause hate, violence, racism and all kinds of bigotry to pass away and all of creation to be born again.
So, thank you for being here today. Because of the life of Dr. Trevor Hodge, because of what we are going to do in this world to remember and celebrate his life, there is hope for us all.