Sunday, March 14, 2010

Going Home

Yesterday was the first Episcopal funeral I've attended.  Shocking, I know, considering I live with . . . at ... let's say, close to the Episcopal Church.    It was beautiful.

But let me back up first.  A lot happened before the funeral.

Wednesday mornings I am part of a wonderful group of women who meet together to pray, study the Bible, and eat coffee cake.  (yum...)  This past week, I asked my friend Ellen if she would pray for my long trip to and from the funeral.  I had ambitious travel plans and an ambitious schedule and I was doubtful my already sleep deprived body and little baby could make it.  I had an image while she prayed of Jesus literally walking with me as I drove, flew, etc.

Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" was playing in the background of my image.  God has a sense of humor, doesn't he?  He uses fools for his glory.  PTL. (Praise the Lord)

And as I flew home late late last night (in the middle seat between two arm rest hogs, behind a reclining teenager, trying to keep Cordelia asleep and my feet awake, and discreetly nursing twice because she wouldn't take the bottle) I managed to listen to 3 songs on my IPod.  (That's 3 more songs than I usually get on a flight.)  It was on shuffle.  The first was an awesome Jars of Clay song.  It lifted my spirits.  The next was Kanye's "Jesus Walks."  Wow!  Jesus was walking with me.

My senses were heightened all weekend.  I had what our VBS curriculum calls "God Sightings" everywhere.  The Spirit was there.

The funeral was beautiful.

Watching the pall bearers carry the casket into and out of the sanctuary were the most emotional parts of the service.  Seeing the young men who would have been his groomsmen carry Tom to his grave was heart wrenching.  They were carrying their brother's burdens.  Carrying their brother one last time.

And it was heavy.  They struggled not only to carry the casket but also to keep it together inorder to finish their task.

It was heavy and real and it hurt because life and death are heavy and real.  And the more we can grasp the depths of struggle and pain, the more beautiful God's grace and deliverance is for us.

On the back of the bulletin card was written the following found in the Book of Common Prayer, the prayer book for the Anglican church.  It is perfectly written.  And it is the perfect story.  The story of how Jesus brings us home.

The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy.
It finds all its meaning in the resurrection.
Because Jesus was raised from the dead,
we, too, shall be raised.
The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy,
in the certainty that
"neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian.
The very love we have for each other in Christ 
brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death
Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend.
So, while we rejoice that one we love
has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord,
we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.


Willa J. Photography said...

Beautiful post, Emily. I'm glad that you were able to make it your dear friend's funeral safely. See you Wednesday! Oh, Jake and I really enjoyed Alex's sermon this morning. :)

Paul, Lauren, Witt, and Nash said...

Yes, a very beautiful post indeed! I am so glad you were able to be there. Often we want to provide some kind of "magic" words to help, but that "ministry of presence" is such a gracious offering and instrument of comfort and support. I pray Jesus gives you sweet rest!

catherine said...

Love the post and glad I got to see you.