Friday, September 19, 2014

Fr. Lintner's five-star funeral

It may seem a little odd to review a funeral, but Fr. Lintner --- who believed in leaving nothing to chance --- had planned his own in great detail. So it would be a shame if it didn't receive the rating it deserved.

We added up the years while driving into Des Moines yesterday morning and figured out that Fr. Richard had been associated with St. Andrew's of Chariton for a total of 43 years --- as vicar, supply priest and vicar emeritus --- or since he arrived in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa during 1971 to teach rather than preach, then ended up doing both. That's quite a record.

The funeral was held at St. Luke's Church, just west of the Drake University campus, and Fr. Lintner's home church in Des Moines where he remained on the roster as assisting priest until he died at 88 on Monday. The Rev. Fred Steinbach, of St. Andrew's, was among the officiants during a service led by the Rev. Martha Kester, St. Luke's vicar, with the Rev. Kathleen Milligan, of St. John's Dubuque, as homilist. Fr. Lintner had mentored Fred, ordained earlier this summer, and Kathleen, some years ago when she transitioned from the United Methodist pastorate to ordination as an Episcopal priest. Bill Gode and Curt Daniels, also of St. Andrew's, were among the pall bearers; Dru Thorne, a reader.

Bishop Alan Scarfe ordinarily would have led the service, but he was aboard a plane headed to a House of Bishops meeting in Taiwan when Fr. Lintner died.

St. Luke's is an interesting building of multiple parts. The Parish House with soaring second-floor parish hall, on the right, probably dates from about 1926 when the original St. Luke's building was moved from Eighth Street to the current Forest Avenue site. The old church was demolished in 1961 and a new and larger nave and chancel built in its place. The exterior of the new church harmonizes with the old wing, but inside it is very much a high, light and rather plain expression of the time it was built.

A magnificent pipe organ is a principal glory of the church and David Raymond, organist and canon musician at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, was on hand to play it --- so the music was superb. Hollie Hart was soloist, performing the Bach/Gounod setting of "Ave Maria" beautifully during Communion. Fr. Lintner had chosen triumphant traditional congregational hymns, including "Glorious things of thee are spoken" and, as gradual, "Jerusalem the golden." And thanks to Samuel Felderman, who insisted several months ago at St. Andrew's that we polish our performance of "O saving victim." We sang that, too.

Flowers from St. Andrew's
Episcopalians have a love-hate relationship with incense in the sense that priests often love it and parishioners hate it because it makes them sneeze. Fr. Lintner loved, and specified, it. So the folks at St. Luke's polished up the thurible, the priest and thurifer practiced and everything that could be censed was. 

Kate Milligan delivered a warm and occasionally downright funny homily, recalling Fr. Lintner at this best. As expected, he had written his own obituary and we learned from Kate that, because he could be mischievous, the family had edited out a line or two, including "Foul play is not suspected" after the blanks where date and circumstances of death were to be inserted.

The recessional was, of course, "I sing a song of the saints of God," composed during 1929 in England by Lesbia Scott as a children's hymn and much loved by American Episcopalians of all ages although not so much so by British Anglicans. I like to think I'm immune to its charms --- frankly, the words are a little dated. Then darned if I didn't choke up during the second verse. 

But it was a lovely service, so thanks one more time Fr. Lintner. We proceeded to lunch in the parish hall uplifted rather than downtrodden --- and that's what the end result of a funeral should be. Five stars!


Anonymous said...

Well done , Frank

chris lintner said...

Well said and thank you!