Spirit led thoughts from the Canon to the Ordinary
FOCUS ON SALVATION
There are many approaches to what the prayer book calls The Burial of the Dead. Some think the shorter the better. Others turn it into a so-called Celebration of Life which is often just a series of eulogies tearfully offered by family and friends. As Anglicans, our understanding is that the service is to be focused on Jesus and the fact that He is resurrection and life and that those who believe in Him shall never die.
A case in point is the service we just held at St. Mary’s for Tom Sather who died unexpectedly at the age of 52. Last September 8, during lunch at his house with his wife Janet and my wife Susan, it came up that despite being raised in the church neither of them was sure of their salvation. After some discussion, I led each of them in a prayer of salvation. Little did we know what lay ahead. Tom died June 27,2016.
Last week we held a Celebration of Eternal Life for Tom at St. Mary’s. The focus was on salvation. The scriptures and the homily’s application of the scriptures ministered to those present. Referring to John 14:1ff I noted that it is believing in Jesus that makes it possible for our hearts not to be troubled. A little later I said we are right there with Thomas wondering where we go and how we get there. Jesus assures us he prepares a place for us and he comes and takes us there. I noted that this promise is for all who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is lord as Tom Sather did.
After the service, a man I’d never met followed me into the sacristy. He had tears in his eyes. He said he was a mess and hadn’t been to church in years. He said something I said really touched him and he wanted to know if he could talk to me about getting God back in his life. I prayed with him right there. I arranged to meet with him on Sunday to continue his journey back to Jesus. Celebrations of Eternal Life are incredible teachable moments if Jesus is the focus. God is great and does amazing things when we least expect it. Actually, I expect it all the time.
Father Jim Fosdick SSC
Canon to the Ordinary