Rana Moody: Eulogy and Homily

A Celebration of Life

Rana Bode Moody, 1948-2021

 

Dr. Dwight A. Moody, Minister

 

 Celebrating a Life

 

Grace and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to all of you, the family and friends of Rana J. Moody. Thank you for being here. I am Rev. Dwight A. Moody, sister-in-law to Rana and before that a brother to David. We gather today to give thanks to our good and gracious God, the source and sustenance of all life. We thank God for this one life, Rana Moody.

 

Hear the Word of God, selections from Genesis chapter one:

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…. The earth was formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…. Then God said, “Let there be light” and there was light; and God saw that the light was good…God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters…’ and it was so…then God said ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation’…and it was so, and God said that it was good….God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures’…and it was so…. and God saw that it was good…God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind’…and it was so…and God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness’… So God created the human race in the image of God, male and female God created them…God saw everything that was made and indeed, it was very good!

 

From the beginning until this very day, God is the source of life: all life, every life, this life: Rana Bode Moody. We give thanks to God today for this one life. God created Rana; and we say with the inspired writer of Genesis, it was very good! From Psalm 103, we voice this hymn of praise and thanksgiving:

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless your holy name.
Bess the Lord, O my soul and do not forget all your benefits.
You forgive all our iniquity; you heal all our diseases:
You redeem our life from destruction.
You crown us with steadfast love and mercy.
You satisfy us with good as long as we live
so that our youth is renewed like the eagle.


The Lord words vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord will not always accuse or sustain anger.
The Lord does not deal with us according to our sins.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is God’s steadfast love toward those who fear God;
As far as the east is from the west, so far the Lord removes our transgressions from us.

 

For the Lord knows how we were made; that we are but dust. Our days are like grass, flourishing like a flower of the field;
the wind passes over and it is gone, and its place is known no more.
But the steadfast love of the God is from everlasting to everlasting on those who honor God, unto the third generation.

 

The Lord has established a throne in the heavens. God rules over all.
Bless the Lord, all you angels, you mighty ones who do the Lord bidding.
Bless the Lord, all the hosts, servants who do God’s will.
Bless the Lord, all creation in all places of God’s dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

 

Music: Angels, Laney Aleman,

 

Honoring Rana Bode Moody

 

Rana J. Moody (Bode) was born on November 20, 1948, right here in Edwardsville, Illinois. She died here, in her home on June 24, 2021, succumbing to a lengthy battle with cancer.  In her final days, she was surrounded by family, friends, and neighbors who cared for her.   She was a beautiful woman, inside and out.

 

The Bible commands us to give honor to whom honor is due. And today, on behalf of all of us, I give honor to Rana Moody.

 

We honor Rana, first, as a Christian woman.

 

She was born into the Christian home of Charles and Lorraine Bode of Edwardsville, the first of four children. She grew up with her brother Charles Bode now of Paradise Valley, AZ with wife Dawn and children Travis, Natasha, and Chase; with her sister Jane Sly still of Edwardsville and her husband Ed with their children Mark, Melissa, and Michael; and with her brother John Bode also still of Edwardsville, and his wife Maureen and their children Andy, Ryan, and Will.

 

Rana was baptized at St. Boniface Church, where she later attended school and mass. And it was here she was married in December in 1970. I remember it vividly, as do a few others here; we have to, because the pictures taken that day are so bad. It was my first visit, I think, to a Catholic Church. But it certainly was not the last. Rana raised all of her children in the Christian faith, at St. Mary’s Church. They all married strong Christian people and have established homes where prayer, worship, and Christian virtues are practiced.

 

It is fitting, therefore, that this service today is a celebration of our Christian faith; and fitting also that a funeral mass will be said at St. Mary’s Church this Friday, with burial at St. Boniface Cemetery.

 

We honor Rana also as an educated woman.

 

Rana invested her life in the education of others. She attended Edwardsville High School and then Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville where she earned a bachelor’s degree in education. She began her teaching career in the Hazelwood School District in Missouri, as did David. With their summers free from teaching, she enriched her understanding of the world travelling with her husband all over Europe, Mexico, and the Western United States.

 

Later, Rana added a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. She worked in several school districts, but her longest tenure was in O’Fallon where she worked as a speech pathologist until she retired in 2005.  In addition to the hundreds of students she taught and coached, she mentored several others in her extended family inspiring them to pursue careers in speech pathology.

 

A telling mark of the value she placed on education is this: all three of her children graduated from a university. In total, the family of five has earned eight degrees, including two doctorates. Pretty impressive. After a career of 35 years, Rana retired at the early age of 56.

 

Her family has honored her vocation by creating and endowing the Rana J. Moody Memorial Scholarship for speech pathology students at SIU-Edwardsville. This is a rare and noble tribute.  I encourage all of us to join this effort to honor her life and work by making a generous contribution to this scholarship.

 

We honor Rana as, above all things, a homemaker.

 

While at the university, Rana met David Moody, my brother and her future husband. After college, she and Dave married; that was December 29, 1970. A few years later, she gave birth to the first of her three children: that was Erin, with Beau and Fran to follow.  Thus, began the transition to her chief role in life, that of home-maker, family-maker, people-maker.

 

David described his wife like this:  “She really was such an amazing mother and I learned so much from her. She was gentle, affectionate, fun, supportive, and encouraging. She encouraged independence, and she practiced unconditional acceptance. She was not controlling or judgmental. There was never any harsh language or behavior. She never belittled. My kids were so fortunate to have her for a mother. It was really about unconditional love.”

 

Others in the family echo this assessment. One wrote, “Rana was a wonderful listener. This attribute requires attention, a beautiful spirit, and thinking of others over oneself.” And one of the grandchildren gave this testimony: “Nanny was someone who could always brighten your day. she was there from the moment I was born and has meant so much to me. I hope that where she is, she is smiling down on us.”

 

During her years raising children, Rana would wear the titles of cheer mom, baseball mom, and swim mom.  She threw herself into these roles wholeheartedly.  Her children would later laugh at her uncanny ability to recall every one of Frannie’s swimming race times over the years.  As an accomplished seamstress, Rana made many Halloween costumes for her children and grandchildren, including a replica period dress for her granddaughter that was a copy of Eliza’s in the musical Hamilton.  Some of these are on display here. There were also countless sleepovers, baby blankets, special homemade treats, and of course, trips.  Every year at her house her entire extended family gathered for Thanksgiving and enjoyed Rana’s remarkable spread of dishes.   Rana is remembered for her love of crock pot meals, Kohl’s Cash, Motown music, and the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s quite a mashup!

 

Rana is survived by her husband of 50 years, David Moody. She is survived also by three children:  a daughter Erin, with her husband Jason and their three children Evan, Laney, and Bree of Springfield, IL; a son Beau and his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Gianna of Edwardsville, IL; and a daughter Francesca and her husband David and their children Louis and Annalise of Weldon Springs, MO.

Together the children composed the memorial printed on the back on your Celebration card and from that I draw this summary: Rana “was beautiful and wise…. When you needed her, you could always find her. You came as you are; there was no wrong way to be with mom.”  From her and with her, they found, as they wrote, “love, happiness, faith and hope, as well as “strength, perseverance, and resilience.” What more could anyone ask of a mother!

 

This recitation of her life brings to mind the words of Holy Scripture, from Proverbs, Chapter 31.

 

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. …
 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes….
 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her home and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her:
 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

 

Prayer of St. Francis: granddaughter Melissa Sly

Testimonial: son-in-law David Douglass

My Nanny, A-Z: granddaughter Laney Aleman

 

Confessing our Faith

 

One of Rena’s children posted this on Facebook:  My beautiful mom Rana passed away early this morning. She passed away in her home, after many days surrounded by family and loved ones. She is with Jesus now.  I want to take that last sentence as the source of our inspiration today. She is with Jesus now. She is with Jesus now.

 

It is a fundamental Christian assertion. Jesus said to one of the other men crucified with him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Later, St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth and said that to be “away from the body” is to be “at home with the Lord.”  Earlier, he had written the church at Thessalonica this word of assurance about the day when Jesus returns:  “Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have died…Then those who are still alive on earth will be caught up to join them and so we all will be with Jesus forever.”  Jesus said the same thing much earlier, recorded in St. John’s gospel: “Believe in God and believe also in me…I go to prepare a place for you…so that where I am there you may be also.”

 

Many things about life, death, and the life everlasting are mysterious: How people raised in the same family can be so different. Why we are drawn to the people we marry.  Why some live long and healthy and others suffer and die early.  How our spirit indwells our body and then slowly slips away. What happens to the human spirit at death and what happens to the human body.  And the greatest of all mysteries: how can we describe the afterlife, the kingdom of God, and heaven.

 

So much is mystery. “We see through a glass darkly,” St. Paul wrote for all of us.  Perhaps you know the song by Iris Dement, called “Let the Mystery Be”

 

Everybody is a wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody is a worrying about where they’re gonna go when the whole thing’s done.
But no one knows for certain and so it’s all the same to me.
I think I’ll just let the mystery be.

 

I like the feel of this attitude. But square in the middle of these mysteries is this wonderful phrase, “with Jesus.” To be away from our earthly bodies is to be, in some sense, with Jesus: with Jesus in glory, in heaven, in paradise, at rest, at peace, at the throne of God.  Wherever Jesus is, there we will be. Our Christian faith teaches this: our destiny is bound up with Jesus. Where he goes, we go; what happens to him, happens to us. That is part of the meaning of that phrase, “in Christ”. This is why the Bible uses the phrase, “first fruits of the resurrection.” In writing to the Corinthians, Paul says, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For as all die as Adam, so all will be made alive as Christ.”

 

How resurrection happens is a great mystery.  But we don’t wait until death to be “with Jesus.”  We are with Jesus from the moment of our birth.  We are with Jesus every time we pray. We are with Jesus in times of suffering and in times of celebration. We are with Jesus in every act of kindness and generosity. We are with Jesus when we sing and dance and give glory to God. We are with Jesus in quiet moments of meditation and also in raucous fits of joy.  We are with Jesus when giving birth and also when saying goodbye.

 

Or perhaps it is better to say it like this: Jesus is with us! Jesus is with us in every step of life, even when our missteps push us outside the purposes and plans of God, when we stumble and fall, when the road is dark, and our souls are sad. “I am with you until the end of the age,” Jesus said to those first disciples, and also to us. Jesus is with us when we curse God, when we disobey God, when we ignore God. Especially then, Jesus is with us, and we are with Jesus.  That is the gospel, the good news, the Christian message. Receive it in faith; live it in hope; let it settle in your soul in love.

 

“Where can I go from your Spirit,” the psalmist asks of God, and then gives the answer: “If I go to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed with the dead, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there you hand shall lead me and your righthand shall hold me fast.” Psalm 139

 

Jesus is in this very room, today, here.  Jesus the Risen Lord, touching your heart, comforting some, convicting others, giving some extra strength, forgiving others of extraordinary failure, calling all of us to trust God, to love God, to give God our very best, to follow Jesus in life and in death.

 

The gospel of John tells the story of Jesus going to Bethany. His friend Lazarus had just died, and the two sisters Mary and Martha were in grief. Jesus arrived and talked to Martha; then Martha found Mary and said to her, “Rabbi Jesus is here, and is calling for you.” That is the gospel message today. Jesus is here and is calling for us. Jesus is here and calling to us, in our loss, in our grief, in our sorrow. Jesus is here and calling to us, as we worship God and honor Rana. Jesus is here and calling to us, as we pray and speak and read and listen. Jesus is here, listening, consoling, calling for you and for me.

 

Shortly before David and Rana married in 1970, Canadian singer Anne Murray recorded a song. It was later covered by the likes of Elvis Presley and Joan Baez. It reached #2 on the charts, topped only by the more famous song “Joy to the World” with its memorable opening line, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.” I suspect David and Rana did a little dancing to that tune; and maybe they listened to this one:

 

“Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters;
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea.
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently
by putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.”

 

That man is Jesus. Jesus is with you today. Rana is with Jesus today. One day, we also will be with Jesus and with Rana.

 

Thanks be to God.  Amen.

 

Let us Pray

 

(June 2021)