Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Funerals are, quite naturally, sad occasions. We come together this morning to close the earthly life of X and to commend her to the love of God. It is a sad occasion for all those who knew her as Wife, as Mother, as Grandmother, Great Grandmother even, and also as friend.
A sad occasion, yes, but it is a sadness should be contrasted with the hope that Saint Paul spoke of so very vividly in that letter we have just heard. It is a powerful hope for all of us, whether we actively proclaim our Christian faith, or whether faith is a private matter, kept to oneself.
St Paul speaks of the great hope for the resurrection, when in the last days we will join with the departed in the greatest party of all with the whole company of heaven. Today, we should therefore look back on X’s life with a smile and in fond remembrance of a life fully lived and a life fully enjoyed and should also look forward to the glorious resurrection which is the right of all who believe in the promises of Christ
In this earthly life, I understand that X was … [personal details omitted
I am sure we all have our own precious memories of X, which we will treasure for ever. But we must be clear of this, although X is no longer here on earth, her our relationship with them is not ended, for death is not the end of, but merely a change in relationship. It is a change in perspective which we on this earth find difficult to perceive, but Oh yes, the departed remain with us, in our love, in our memories and in the prayers of those of us left here on earth.
Saint Paul encouraged the people of Thessalonika with his words and tells us today that although we might wish to cling to the earthly body, it is not that what makes us, us. Our true nature, that which glorifies God and exemplifies the wonder of our creation is that which is imperishable. When we hold the promise of Christ, the frail body of this earth is transformed into the glorious body of the resurrection, and the illnesses which affected X in the past few years of her life have been transcended, and X is fully restored, full reunited with all who have gone before her. Death comes to us all, but as we hear, it is nothing to be feared: for Christ shows each and every one of us his promise. Through Christ’s death for us, through his overcoming of death in the triumph of the resurrection, Jesus Christ has taken something to be sad about, and has given us true comfort.
“Therefore”, as the apostle tells us, “encourage one another with these words”
Death is nothing to be feared, either for ourselves or for those whom we love; for we have seen death overcome in the triumph of the resurrection, and it is with this in mind that we gather to assist X on the next stage of her life’s journey.