Reflections of the Spirit

Memorial Service Reflection on the Readings, November 1997

A week and a half back, when a few of us were planning the details of this service, it was suggested that I do a reflection on the readings. At the time it did not seem like a really big thing. The readings, especially the one we just heard from the Gospel of John, seemed to provide a strong a clear message of hope and confidence in the power of God's love for all of us. What would be so tough about commenting on such a message?

Well, it is 11 days later, and I no longer have the same confidence in my readiness for the task.

Last weekend I was determined to catch up on some of my lagging correspondence. One e-mail letter I was writing was to a cyber friend living in British Columbia. This friend has a terminal illness and is facing his own death. In my letter I was telling him that our planning group had picked the reading from John where Jesus is speaking about not losing even one of those entrusted to him by his Father.

Yesterday I got a reply, and I will quote just a part of the letter:

“When I read this line I started to cry. I am not sure why. I have been reading lately the Aquarian gospel of Jesus the Christ and his life is fresh in my mind. For me he is still very much alive and real. He is the big brother that I talk to, ask for advice, ask for his hand and arms to hold me in times of loneliness. Your words about "not losing even one" seems so tender and loving. It makes me remember those who I have lost.....”

His reaction to a rather casual comment on my part really made me think about that Gospel reading again. It is one of the readings recommended for funerals or grave side services. Along with other readings like the passage about Jesus going to prepare a place for us in his Father's House, or even the reading many of us may have heard last Sunday, from the Gospel of John where Jesus tells us about the final judgement.

The reading we heard tonight, is perhaps the strongest and clearest statement of Good News that people of faith need to hear at a time when a loved one has died. Let us remember that Jesus told us that the Father will call on him, the Son to be the judge of the world. Taken by itself, that is not necessarily good news for many of us. But take it in conjunction with the reading from John, where Jesus tells us that he will not lose any of those that the Father has given him, and that he will raise them all to life on the last day. Here we have the Son of God proclaiming that only he will judge all of the world, and at the same time telling us that he will not lose even one of us, but that his redemptive life and death on the cross, are a sure guarantee of our eternal life.

How can this be? Many of our Christian preachers proclaim that there is some sort of eternal hellfire waiting at the end of time for most of us.... When we look at our lives and the lives of people around us, we know that we are sinners and that we do not deserve an eternity of Joy with our Lord.

I guess that is the good thing... that is the good news of the Gospel; that we do not get what we deserve, but that we can expect to get what God, through his son Jesus, has earned for us, forgiveness of all of our sins, and eternal life. I don't understand it, and I don't imagine any of us really do. How can we understand the workings of an infinite love? How can we understand the mysterious ways that his grace and love work their way into the vilest of hearts? How can we understand absolute forgiveness and absolute love and absolute compassion and absolute redemption?

Well, I don't think that we can understand these things. I don't think that God intends for us to understand these things. What God expects is for us to hear and believe his word. God expects us to live and walk and talk with the confidence and the joy of people who have been redeemed, and who are counted among those that the Father has given to Jesus, and of whom Jesus says, he will not lose any of those the Father has given him, and that he shall raise them all to life on the last day!”

At a moment like this, when we are remembering those we have loved and those we have lost, at a moment like this when we remember our own failings and the failings of those who have died, it is very good, and it is very proper, that we should hear this good news from our Lord!

Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina


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