You are all here today because you have lost someone dear to you. Someone you cared about and loved. That person is of course no longer here with you, at least in the physical sense. And, of course, that is both sad and painful. Today is an opportunity to own and hold that pain.

But, it is also an opportunity to reflect and remember. All lives are a gift from God and all lives leave us with a gift. We are nurtured and matured partly through other people. We learn to love because we have been loved. We learn of those wonderful and divine qualities that the 23rd Psalm recounts: loving-mercy, goodness, restoration of the soul because we have experienced them through those who have loved us. We learn to live and live well because others have lived and lived well, and that’s what makes death so painful.

However although death is painful we must also learn the arts of remembrance and thanksgiving. It is through remembering that we keep the spirit of our loved ones alive within us and it is through thanksgiving that we keep love alive within us.

 

The reading from 1 Corinthians 13 comes to the most amazing conclusion: ‘and now faith, hope and love, these three abide and the greatest of these is love. What this one short verse is saying is simply this: that love cannot be extinguished. Love always has the last word. Love wins out.

 

I would like to finish by offering you two certainties and one hope. The certainties are that you loved the person you have come here to remember today and that they loved you. Let the certainty of love be enough. Let the certainty of love sustain you and keep you moving ahead. The hope is that death is not the end of the story, even if and when it feels like it. Take to heart the last words of the Psalm:

‘and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,’

 

Amen.