It was a big week for me for funerals. It is always hard to lose someone dear to us around the holidays; this year was no exception. Yesterday I attended a “Celebration of Life” at my church for a dear friend’s husband who passed away on New Year’s Eve.
In the Episcopal Church, the liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy, finding 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.”
The beautiful service continued with the Holy Eucharist and a soloist with the hymn: “On Eagle’s Wings”:
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in His shadow for life,
Say to the Lord, "My Refuge,
My Rock in Whom I trust."
The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear;
Under His Wings your refuge,
His faithfulness your shield.
You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.
And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.
I pray that if you mourn for the loss of a loved one you will know that nothing, even death, can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Because Jesus has been raised, we will be raised, too.