No one’s perfect
The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that all who follow Him are known as Easter people. What do I mean by this? Well, followers of Jesus believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him to be Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Wrapped up in this is God’s promise to us that all the followers of Jesus will be gathered up and so be granted a share in God’s amazing eternal kingdom.
The wonderful, heart-warming themes of resurrection, joy, eternal peace and a love stronger than death are woven through our Christian belief. But, there are other themes. In 2 Corinthians 4 the Apostle Paul writes along these lines:
God has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Christ.
He goes on to say:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay …
You see, in this life we face vulnerability; we too can be cracked or broken like a cracked vase. This brokenness can leave us with jagged edges and so even greater vulnerability. Such brokenness can leave us with sorrow, guilt, regret and grief. This is all quite natural when we are dealing with, and living through bereavement.
So it is right that we ask God to bring pardon and peace to the broken in heart; (Church Liturgy for confession on special occasions), to make us whole again when we feel torn and divided by our grief.
As we commemorate those who have departed this life we can have hope that they are now at rest. Meditate on these words from Revelation:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev 21:4).
And with these words we hear God’s loving responses in the words of Jesus when He was teaching His disciples about what was to happen next on the night He was arrested and crucified:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you …. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. (John 14:27).
It’s so easy to forget these words of Jesus. When we do we allow things to trouble our hearts, especially when we remember someone we love and still miss.
Perhaps we remember things we did or said that we now deeply regret but can’t say sorry. There might be things left unsaid because we didn’t know we would have so little time to say them. We might be hanging on to feelings of anger or bitterness towards one who wronged us or hurt us badly.
Only we know what’s in our hearts – or rather only we and God. And God, knows what we need better than we know ourselves.
The truth is, in loving us beyond our understanding, God holds out his hands so that we can place into them the person we are remembering, and our relationship with that person.
Placing someone into God’s hands may not be easy. We might only be able to do it gradually over a period of time or we might only be able to say, “I want to forgive but can’t yet”.
You see, our relationship with someone doesn’t end when they die. It would be denying we have emotions, any conscience, if this were so. Therefore, we continue to carry such relationships with us after they have died, but with and through God’s grace and mercy these relationships can change, grow and heal.
If, after someone we love dies we have no regrets at all about our relationship with them, except that it has been cut short, we can count ourselves greatly blessed. But I suspect that for most of us we wish this to be so! Nevertheless, in our grieving for their loss we can still feel a deep gratitude that our lives have been enriched because we were part of theirs.
Despite the death of a loved one let’s remember that we cannot be separated from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. And that this cracked vase can still hold flowers of great beauty.
Based on a sermon for All Souls Day, Sunday 4th November 2018
Readings: Philippians 1:1-11 & John 5:24-29