We had a funeral service last Sunday for a parishioner. She was 95 when she died and had lived in an "adult community" for the last 21 years, starting in the cottages, moving to an apartment and then into more and more of the hospital/critical care wing of the complex. I only knew Emily for the last two years of her life, as she slowly succumbed to the deterioration of her mind and body. It was a wonderful gift to hear about the "other" Emily who had lived a vital, active and loving life during the reception portion of her memorial service.
We utilized The BCP Burial of the Dead, Rite II and began with the verses we hear in the first choice of Gospel selections we are given today: I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Jesus said these words to Martha upon his arrival having been summoned because Lazarus was dying. This is before Jesus raises Lazarus. To utilize these words during a funeral service, plucking them from a resurrection story, gives these words so much more of a palpable resonance. These words offer great comfort to those who mourn the loss of a loved one. These words set the tone for a funeral service: one of comfort and joy and thanksgiving.
As we walk into Palm Sunday and Holy Week, these words can and do help with all the questions that come up during this long week.
Copyright 2009, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.