I thought I would spend a few minutes reflecting on two topics; reality and certainty.
Reality is in some ways easier to deal with. We are all here today because our feelings are very real. We know how we feel.
I think that the two bible passages – both well known and much loved passages – deal with reality and certainty, although such is the beauty of the language that these themes can get strangely lost.
Let’s start with the 23rd Psalm. The psalmist pulls no punches in suggesting that we are all going to walk through ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ In fact the Psalm realistically depicts life as an accompanied progression into and beyond death, finishing as it does, with its great conclusion: ‘and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’
For people of faith this is part of the great certainty.
St. Paul in his most famous of anthems also offers is something which we can hold as an unfathomable truth.
‘Now faith, hope and love abide, and the greatest is of these is love.’
Many of you, I hope all of you, know this to be true. You know the power of love. You know that you have loved, and continue to love, those closest to you who you see no more. It is unfathomable because you can’t prove it, but you do know it. You know it because you have and continue to experience it.
And here is the really good news:
If the Psalmist is correct, you and I will continue to be enriched through the power of love, when we come to the place where we will dwell forever. If St. Paul is also correct we will know love even more fully than we do now. In fact we will abide in love forever. And because love exists in relationship with others we can dare to hope that we will be with those who have gone before us.
I frequently end my funeral homilies by saying I can offer only two certainties: that the person who has died loved you, and you loved them, and that it is this level of certainty that allows us to truly join in with the words of the Nunc Dimitus: ‘now let your servant depart in peace according to your word.’ And, the word that we are referring to is of course love.
Love is both real and certain.
Love is, and must always be, the last word.
Rev. Andrew Lightbown