Talk for the Funeral Service of one of our parishioners at Christ Church, Heiloo.
Reading: John 14:1-3
Physical contact is such an important part of our lives as human beings, isn’t it? We are physical beings, and we know and are known through our senses. When this physical contact is broken in any way, we find ourselves in a state of crisis. But when death is the cause of this broken contact, the crisis is severe. We use words like mourning, sorrow, and grief to describe the sensation of emotional upheaval, but nothing can describe that feeling of utter helplessness, loneliness, and emptiness that we experience when a loved one dies. In one way, it can be depicted as having some unseen torturer ripping you open and tearing you apart.
But it is this human need for contact that presents us with one of our biggest difficulties when it comes to dealing with death, and that is our own physical mindedness. We think mostly in terms of what we can experience with our senses. But death forces us to acknowledge another aspect to life that transcends the physical, and that is the spiritual. Death compels us to exercise another usually untrained sense….our spiritual sense.
As Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for what would most certainly be one of the most distressing days of their lives, he spoke about this need for contact. He told them that they should not be unsettled, because in God’s house (and please note that this word is singular) there are many rooms (and this word is plural). One house, with many rooms. A vast house, to be sure, but still only one house that can accommodate many.
Then he added that what he was about to do for them on the cross would secure for them a place in this house so that where he would be they would be also. True, the contact would take on another form, especially after he was removed from them at the ascension, but it would not be broken.
Many years after these events, Paul attempted to describe this unbroken contact by saying that when God made us alive together with Christ, he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Jesus. In other words, all believers from the moment they put their faith and trust in Jesus move into God’s one singular house.
As followers of Jesus, we believe that he died for us so that whether we are in this physical body or not, we will always remain in him. There is only one Body of Christ. There is only one Church. There is only one sheepfold. There is only one house. Once we are in that house, we may shift from one room to another or one side of the house to the other…we may discard the physical to be clothed with the spiritual…we may change from what is visible to what is not visible…but we always remain in Jesus.
Yes, physical contact may be broken, but an eternal contact that can never be broken was already irreversibly established when XXXX gained admittance to that one house. To quote the words of the angels to the women when they stood weeping at the empty tomb…do not seek the living among the dead. While we may mourn the loss of what is physical, we find our hope in embracing what is immortal. In one sense, XXXX has not left. If you are in God’s house, you are never closer to XXXX than when you are worshipping at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus said: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37
Let us pray:
Almighty God, grant us, with all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, the fullness of life in your eternal and everlasting glory, and, with all your beloved children, to receive the crown of life promised to all who share in the victory of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.