service of remembrance

A homily from the Service of Remembrance, held on All Souls, November 2, 2018

Romans 8:14-19, 34-35, 37-39

The hope of the resurrection constantly stands before us. It inspires the beautiful music we hear this evening. It drives us to seek out experiences of shared hope in the service we offer together tonight. It is this hope which sustains and comforts us as we sit in remembrance of those that have come before, that have left for us memories of lives filled with joy and love. It is this hope which sustains and comforts us as we sit in remembrance of those that have come before, that have left for us memories of lives filled with pain and anger. The hope of the resurrection then becomes a reminder of that which has been promised and that which we hope will be fulfilled, for ourselves yes, but much more for those who have preceded us from this life to the next. A hope that love truly does win. A hope that nothing in all of creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We remember today those saints that have gone before us. Those saints whose acts of holy wisdom, witness, power, are written only on our hearts, known only to us, those whom we saw the light of Christ shining brightly from within their souls, even if the rest of the world couldn’t see it.

We also remember today those beloved children of God that have gone before us, that we would be hard-pressed to call a saint. For they are also beloved children, and we loved them, even if they refused to, even if they couldn’t, love themselves. In many ways, our prayers are lifted up even more loudly for these dearly departed friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons. We pray for their broken souls, even as we acknowledge our own brokenness, and come back once again to the hope that is the empty cross that stands before us.

This cross isn’t empty because it’s lacking, it is empty so that we may project our hopes in the salvific act that occured thereupon. We don’t come before it today because we lack hope. We come before it today because it is only that hope which inspires and comforts, which challenges and embraces. We come before it today because we are an Easter people who rejoice in the risen Lord, who cling to the hope of the resurrection, because in the resurrection we know that our access to the love of God, the forgiveness of God, the healing of God, the grace and peace of God, is always available, always ready to embrace us, always ready to welcome us home. And, it is in this promise that we know those who have departed this life have been welcomed into a new life. Even if, perhaps especially so, they suffered in this life, they have been welcomed in a loving embrace in the next.

Death, life, angels, rulers, things present, things to come, powers, heights, depths, anything else in all of creation, none of that has the power to separate us from the promise of the resurrection, to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is hope. This is our motivation. This is our power. Knowing that we, that anyone, can never be separated from God, from love. Remember those who have come before, offering thanks for their lives with us, their welcome into the next life, and do so in the reality that is the resurrection. Embrace your hope.

Amen.

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