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The State Funeral of George H. W. Bush. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired December 5, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The best father a son or a daughter could have. And in our grief, let us smile knowing that dad is hugging Robin and holding mom's hand again.
VERY REV. RANDOLPH MARSHALL HOLLERITH, DEAN, WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL: Please stand.
The holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.
CROWD: Glory be to you, o Lord.
HOLLERITH: Jesus said, you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see
your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.
The gospel of the Lord.
REV. RUSSELL LEVENSON JR., RECTOR, SAINT MARTIN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, HOUSTON: Bow your heads in prayer, please.
Almighty God, of all comfort, console us, of all light, strengthen us, of all love, inspire us to love you and to love those you send our way. Amen.
Well, please be seated.
It is a tremendous honor to follow the speakers and especially someone whom I admire so much, our 43rd president. Sir, your father always welcomed my visits and never made me feel rushed and always said thank you for coming. Never made me feel like I was going on too long. Your mother usually said good sermon, too long.
[12:35:08] I got your e-mail. You're a lot like your mother. Ladies and gentlemen, children of God, when death comes as it does to us all, life is changed, not ended. And the way we live our lives, the decisions we make, the service we render, matter. They matter to our fellow human beings, to this world that God has given to us, and they matter to God.
And few people have understood this as well or lived their lives as accordingly as President George Herbert Walker Bush. Hear what I said lived it. Not earned it or strived to achieve it. It was as natural to him as breathing is to each of us.
President Bush was a good man, a decent man, a Godly man, full of grace and love and a quality of absolute necessity to enter the kingdom of God, humility. Grounded in a desire to serve his God and all God sent his way.
How do I know this? Because for nearly a dozen years, my wife, Laura, and our children and I, we have laughed with him, we have fished with him. President Bush brought up riding and fidelity. We had that pleasure as well the secret service was behind us, he was at full throttle. I saw many of them reaching for what I thought were protective armor, but then I realized as they followed the president, they were actually crossing themselves.
We've been blessed to share meals and tears and moments of silence and prayers in times of great strength and times of great weakness. Never, not once, did I witness anything but care and concern for those around him. The job of a pastor or priest, a imam, a rabbi, when dealing with someone he or she is called to serve, is to call on them to look to God, to do the right thing, to serve others, and to love. And President Bush made my job so easy.
(INAUDIBLE) from the Hebrew Scriptures remind us that God is light, and the president reflected that light his whole life through. He once said I'm a man who sees life in terms of missions defined and missions completed. And we were called with delight when he reminded America and her citizens of his mission and ours to be points of light with but one aim, to leave our world better than we found it. I have a political cartoon of the 41st president. I keep it in my desk with caricatured big ears. He's sitting in his desk, he's looking at his watch and he's saying to himself, communism is dead, the wall is down, apartheid is falling, Mandela is free, the Sundaneses are (INAUDIBLE), Germany is reuniting, the Cold War is over, I've returned my calls, and heck, it's not even lunchtime.
We sometimes forget all that President Bush did for us, in large part because he preferred to shine not upon himself but to shine to others. Several years ago, President Bush gave me this plaque. And on the back is a note. "Russ, a good friend gave this to me some years ago. It may be of help to you in some way. It reads simply, preach Christ at all times. If necessary, use words." It remains on my desk as a reminder that faith means more than words.
Jesus Christ for George Bush was at the heart of his faith. But his was a deep faith, a generous faith, a simple faith in the best sense of the world. He knew and lived Jesus' two greatest commandments, to love God and to love your neighbor. The president loved and served not just some but all the guys sent his way. He lived his own adage that tolerance is a virtue, not a vice.
[12:40:01] He respected and befriended Christians of every denomination as well as Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Sikhs. His comrades were from every nation and race. Yes, he was a Republican, but for him, political parties were but a line in the sand to brush away in times of the greater good of working toward his goal for all of us, to be that kinder and gentler nation. The gospel that Dean Hollerith just read for us a moment ago reminds us that Jesus told his followers to be the light of the world so that the world could turn their hearts toward God and toward others. Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven. And so was President Bush. His life was defined by his faith and his service, that are worthy of all those made in God's image.
In September of 1990, President Bush spoke to those gathered outside those doors for the dedication of this great cathedral. And he pointed inside to that magnificent rose window right there from the outside, and he spoke these words, from where we now stand, the rose window high above seems black and formless to some, perhaps, but when we enter, we see it back lit by the sun. It dazzles in astonishing splendor and reminds us that without faith we too are but stained glass windows in the dark. The president understood that even in the darkest of nights, things can be transformed, if handed over to the redemptive power of the almighty. No one on that first Good Friday expected Easter Sunday, but it came. It came because the light that brought creation into being also brought life from the grave. We call that resurrection.
Only days ago, I was humbled along with members of the president's staff, his outstanding and loyal medical team, so many friends, Sully, who I believe has gotten more press than the president in the last few days. Loving members of his family, who called in, who spoke with him throughout the day. And as our 43rd president just said, inspired his last words, words of love. Sitting with us was someone the president liked to call his little brother, James Baker, and his wife, Susan. As I said, there had been wonderful hugs and kind words throughout the day, kisses throughout the day. Toward the end, Secretary Baker and I were sitting on the sofa next to one another a few steps away and he whispered to me, you know, that man changed my life. A bit later, Secretary Baker was at the foot of the president's bed. Toward the end Jim Baker rubbed and stroked the president's feet for perhaps half an hour. The president smiled at the comfort of his dear friend.
Here I witnessed a world leader who was serving a servant who had been our world's leader. And what came to mind was Jesus. On that last night before his own crucifixion, having said everything there was to say, he wrapped a towel around his waist and without words, he washed his disciples' feet. As Jesus finished, he said, I've set an example for you. Do as I have done, serve one another. By this, the world will know you're my disciples, if you serve and if you love one another.
At the end, we all knelt. We all placed our hands on the president. We said our prayers together. And then we were silent. For a full long measure, as this man, who changed all of our lives, who changed our nation, who changed our world, left this life for the next. It was a beautiful end. It was a beautiful beginning.
For a moment, but a moment only, that dear point of light we know as George Herbert Walker Bush dimmed, but it now shines brighter than it ever before has. [12:45:00] And now this Godly man, this servant, this child of God, is in the loving arms of Barbara and Robin and the welcoming arms of our Lord who embraced him with his divine love.
Some have said in the last few days, this is an end of an era. But it does not have to be. Perhaps it's an invitation to fill the hole that has been left behind. The president so loved his church, he loved the Episcopal Church. He so loved our great nation. He so loved you, his friends. He so loved every member of his family.
But he was so ready to go to heaven. And heaven was so ready to receive him, because he lived those two great commandments. If you want to honor him and if you call yourself a daughter or a son of God, then love God, love your neighbor. There's no greater mission on planet earth.
My hunch is heaven, as perfect as it must be, just got a bit kinder and gentler, leaving behind that hole for you and me to fill. How? Preach Christ at all times. If necessary, use words.
So, Mr. President, mission complete. Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome to your eternal home where ceiling and visibility are unlimited and life goes on forever. Amen.
[12:51:57] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the assurance of eternal life given at baptism, let us proclaim our faith and say, I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
[12:56:20] REVEREND CANON JAN NAYLOR COPE, PROVOST, WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL: For our brother, George, let us pray to our Lord Jesus Christ, who said I am resurrection and I am life. Lord, you consoled Martha and Mary in their distress. Draw near to us who mourn for George and dry the tears of those who weep.
CROWD: Hear us, o Lord.
COPE: You went at the grave of Lazarus, your friend. Comfort us in our sorrow.
CROWD: Hear us, o Lord.
COPE: You raised the dead to life. Give to our brother your eternal life.
CROWD: Hear us, o Lord.
COPE: You promised paradise to the thief who repented. Bring our brother to the joys of heaven.
CROWD: Hear us, o Lord.
COPE: Our brother was washed in baptism and anointed with the Holy Spirit. Give him fellowship with all your saints.
CROWD: Hear us, o Lord.
COPE: Comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our brother. Let our faith be our consolation and eternal life our hope.
CROWD: Hear us, o Lord.
RT. REV. MARIANN EDGAR BUDDE, BISHOP OF WASHINGTON: Father of all, we pray to you for George and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace.