Wherever You GoPosted: November 1, 2015
Wherever You Go
SLIDE 3: NOT EVEN DEATH ITSELF WILL COME BETWEEN US
Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God — not even death itself is going to come between us!” And so Ruth despite her mother-in-law’s misgivings bound herself to Naomi.
SLIDE 4: JOINED TOGETHER BY GRIEF
Naomi and Ruth had already been joined together by the searing experience of grief. They had buried three men together, mourned their losses, faced the fear of starvation, and then they set out together to journey back to Bethlehem in hopes of surviving as widows together trying to find a home. And between Ruth’s good looks and Naomi’s worldly wisdom about men, they managed to marry Ruth to Boaz and create a home for both of them.
On this remembrance Sunday we lift up the example of Ruth and Naomi who shared a love that sustained them in grief, and if Ruth was correct a love that would extend beyond the grave – not even death itself is going to come between us!
SLIDE 5: NO OBJECTIVE VERIFICATION
Now clearly we are exploring a topic that is not subject to objective verification. We do not know exactly what happens to us when we die, other than our bodies shut down. And I guess if we believe we are only our bodies, then that’s it! Even the report of near death experiences, where people commonly report going through a tunnel being met by a bright light and the presence of loved ones greeting them on the other side can be dismissed as that is just what the brain does, when it is shutting down.
SLIDE 6: REST IN PEACE UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!
And I can understand many reasons why people may not want to imagine life after this life. Like the story of the widow who had ordered her husband’s tomb stone engraved: “Rest in Peace – Until We Meet Again.” Some of us may be hoping that when we exit this life – that’s it. We’ve had enough on this side already!
SLIDE 7: REMEMBERING IS POWERFUL – COMMUNION OF SAINTS
My guess is if you truly want to believe death is all there is, then you probably are not participating in Remembrance Sunday. Remembering is powerful. Maybe even powerful enough to give life to our love. Maybe though our bodies die, our spirits, our love continues in the silent memory of God. We begin today with white flowers as a symbol of the deaths of our loved ones. In the course of our liturgy of remembrance we bring the white flowers forward to lay upon the altar, and receive a red carnation to symbolize that all live to God. We engage in the liturgy of remembrance as a community of faith, because we prayerfully support one another as part of the communion of saints. Part of the faith of the church is that past members of the community are still a part of our life together in faith.
SLIDE 8: NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD
The first sermon I ever preached was about allowing loved ones to die, when they are terminally ill and there is no hope of a cure. The courage to face such a decision for me comes from Paul’s Letter to the Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. When death comes we can let go of people whom we love, because the divine promise is that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
SLIDE 9: WHAT ABOUT SUBJECTIVE VERIFICATION?
Now again I cannot offer you any objective verification. But allow me to invite you to consider the possibility of subjective verification. Reaching out with our non-rational awareness and your feelings to intuit a solution to this mystery. If you are sitting next to someone you love, allow me to suggest you take that person by the hand. If you are alone today, just close your eyes and bring into your consciousness someone you love very much – a partner, a child, a parent, a good friend. Using your memory and your imagination think about what you love most about the person you have chosen. What are some of the good times you have shared? What are some of the challenges you have faced together? Remember some of the griefs you have shared. And in your mind’s eye think about the greatest joy this person has given you.
If you are holding hands with the person allow yourself to feel the warmth of their skin, the beat of their pulse. Your love is a living, breathing, warmth that rises from your heart and breath. Now ask yourself, do you think you will be completely and utterly cut off from this person by death? Is the love you share unable to survive death?
SLIDE 10: PATTERNS OF ENERGY PRESERVED BEYOND DEATH
I cannot answer those questions for you. I only know how I have chosen to answer those questions. For I believe love is more powerful than death. When we return to the star dust from which we are made I believe the energy of our love is not wasted. The patterns of energy that comprise our love is preserved beyond death, and though we may lose physical sight of those whom we love for a time, I believe that all will be preserved in the silent memory of God – and nothing can separate us from God’s love. Now if our relationships have been such that we are hoping to rest in peace, never to meet again, maybe that can be arranged.
SLIDE 11: FAITH IS POWERFUL
I fully recognize I cannot offer you any objective verification for what I am trying to inspire you to believe. But then we are talking about faith not fact, and as a preacher I am not going to apologize for encouraging you to believe. Faith is powerful. Faith can heal. Faith can change the way we see our lives. Faith can transform our reality. I am suggesting to you that faith is a choice. We can choose to believe that love survives death, or we can choose to believe so long, nice knowing you, it’s over, when you die. And so allow me to ask you, what do you want to believe? Life sucks and then you die, or nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of God. The patterns of energy that comprise our love continue long beyond our earthly lives. We have a choice.
SLIDE 12: FINDING ONE ANOTHER IN THE SILENT MEMORY OF GOD
We have a choice today as we prepare for the Liturgy of Remembrance. We can say that’s it, so long, farewell, good bye it’s over. Or as we prepare to exchange the white carnation for the red flower, we can say, I am sad you are not physically with me right now. I am grieving over your death. But I believe our spirits will find one another someday in the silent memory of God, where everything is healed, and then no one can take that joy from us.
SLIDE 13: WHAT’S IN YOUR HEART?
The guy on television asks the stewardship question: “What’s in your wallet?” But I’m asking you today, “What’s in your heart?” Are you willing to believe your heart? Are you willing to hope? Hope that beyond this life God does not abandon us? Let us come to this Liturgy of Remembrance with the faith of Ruth, “Not even death itself is going to come between us!”