Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mom's Celebration of Life

The Reverend Doctor Eugenia (Genie) Varker Martin

My mom loved big. And she was clear that her love came from God - 
Fierce, compassionate, overwhelming love.

You know it because she shared it with you.
She shared it with all of God’s children. 

Genie never met a stranger. 
She made friends quicker than anyone I know. 
In a moments time, she would know you - and love you.
She made space for people in her heart and in her home.

Today, I am struck by Paul’s letter to the Romans and the language of adoption - OUR adoption as children of God. Through Christ, we are more alike than we are different…because we are from the same God. We are…children of God. 

My mom lived and breathed this truth in her ministry. We learned this early as kids because she was always bringing people home to live with us.  

Someone had a need and she had the resource, and by God, she was going to meet that need!

I can say that it was a good experience growing up. We were loved by a whole host of people.

Genie embodied what it means to expand your family to include God’s family and she passed that on to many. 

In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus teaches us where we should look to find God. He illustrates a scene in which the righteous are told that they cared for Christ when:

  • they saw the hungry and gave food
  • thirsty and gave drink
  • a stranger welcomed
  • the sick and prisoner were visited 

He said, 
“Just as you did it to one of the least of these…who are members of my family… you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Genie was so interested in people because she saw Christ so strongly through them - through you. 

Mom could find God’s presence in everyone and she took Jesus’ words to heart by seeking out time especially with “the least of these.” 
She wasn’t going to miss Jesus in our midst! 

Now, my mother - the Reverend Doctor Genie Martin - was not perfect. She, like all of us had shortcomings. 

One of my favorites was her impatience. 
I'm pretty sure I get that from her. 

My mom wanted things when she wanted them, which caused some embarrassment for us kids when we went out to dinner and the waiter or waitress just wasn’t moving fast enough.

She was impatient in her driving, even talking herself out of a few speeding tickets on her way to do important ministry!

But she was impatient about the right things, too. My mom was impatient with social injustice. It hurt her heart to see how we, as sinful humans, shut God’s children out - how we treat God’s children as “less than.” 

I’ve heard stories over the years and have seen with my own eyes how my mom she stretched her heart to make room for someone different than her. 
Then the grief she felt when others, even those she loved, wouldn’t do the same. 

My mom’s love for people - for God’s children - was heart-bursting big.

The prophet Isaiah prepares us for what we celebrate today. Resurrection to new life.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the EVERLASTING God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 40)

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?"

Jesus died for us.
Jesus was resurrected for us. 
Jesus goes ahead to prepare the set the welcome us into God’s kingdom.

My mom was prepared. 

Over Christmas she took me to lunch. She looked at me and said,

“As a mother, I’m not ready to go.”

“But as a Christian… as a Pastor who has witnessed the death and resurrection of the saints who have gone before us...

I can’t wait!
I can't wait to see what is next."

I looked at her and I felt her tension. The sadness in her heart to let go of dreams unrealized - to know she would say goodbye to those she loved. 

And the joy and anticipation she felt for getting to cross over from life to death to new life. 

My mom was not afraid.  She was prepared for this moment - for her death and resurrection. 

She was convinced. 
She lived unshakeable faith in Christ. 

It is a true gift she gives to each one of us. 

I spent my life watching my mom point to the source of her love in both her words and her actions. The confidence she had in God is the most generous gift to us:  She was prepared to go home because she knew her home was already prepared.

So praise be to God for the life of Genie Martin! 

She is welcomed with a chorus of voices singing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”



  1. This is incredibly beautiful! Your mom was a blessing to so many and I am so thankful I was able to experience her love through Arise. Her impact on my family and I is immeasurable. I am so thankful I knew her. Praying for you and your family during this time but celebrating Genie's homecoming to Heaven! -Maggie Ruth

  2. You have honored your mother with these beautiful words. What a saint she must have been. A good example for us all!

  3. Genie was one who set goals for the rest of her sisters in ministry. She KNEW what to do, what to say, what to offer to ones who longed for more than they could name. Genie's ministry serves as a model of what we are called by Christ to do and to be. Even though she is gone, she leaves her legacy of love that runs deeply into our spirits. I thank God for sending Genie to this place, that ministry, her family, and all who knew her.
    I got the date confused for her service and went yesterday instead of Saturday, to find a vacant parking lot and doors to the church locked. But somehow there was yet something of Genie's spirit lingering there. Thank you so much for these words about your mother. They enrich us and illustrate the beauty of who she was and who she will remain in our hearts.

  4. Praise be to God for the life and love of Genie Martin! Holding your family in the light during this tender season, Dawn. Much love & God's deep shalom to you and all who grieve her death. -Kate Fiedler Boswell

  5. Well said! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Well said! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your mother, Genie. I was a childhood friend and as our busy lives have gone in different directions we lost touch. So sorry for your loss, but as a mother myself, you can be sure she is looking down in perfect peace that she prepared you with the greatest gift she could have left you, your faith in Christ. Thank you fo sharing these most precious words of your incredible mom.

  8. Hi Dawn, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing. I'm sure she was very proud of you and your ministry in San Francisco. Thanks for sharing such a private moment of your life. - paul foo