Saturday, May 12, 2012

Preparing for a Funeral

This morning, I will be presiding over the funeral of a woman who died this past week. She was in her early fifties.

Mortality is something we are aware of all the time, but I am particularly aware of it today. As the sky shines a bright blue, as baby geese follow their parents through our cemetery to food and growth and as we prepare to consign one of our own to God's care and keeping I am aware of how OUR expectations of what death and dying are supposed to look like as opposed to God's reality.

People are supposed to lead long, interesting and healthy lives. At the end of that long life, we are to be romantically surrounded by family and friends. Words that need to be said are said. Forgiveness and reconciliation abound. Even as we close our eyes for the last time, we are benignly aware of coming ever closer to a God who loves us through even this momentary pain of separation and loss.

I have seen this happen just twice in twenty years of pastoral ministry.

The reality is that mortality comes when it comes, and challenges us with its temerity and intensity. It isn't easy to die, nor is it easy to be with someone through that process.

On top of that, at least of late, I have been pastoring people who have lost someone in a distinctly untimely manner. The ones who passed were too young, too full of life, had too much to live for as they left this earth. There was too much to hope for in terms of healing, recovery and reconciliation.

In the end, our community and their families have to deal with loss, and the hope that with time, God's love and the support of the community that there will be, eventually, healing. I do assert that God's consolation is with us. I have no doubt of that. What I am wrestling with today is that what we DON'T get to do in this life is choose the manner or moment of our departure. It comes when it comes, and we pray to God that we will have the support to embrace healing in loss and life in the wake of a death.

May God grant rest eternal to God's servants who have departed this life, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

And, may God give us the strength to face the days ahead in the hope of consolation, comfort and restoration in the life of the love of Jesus Christ.

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