There are no easy words today.
We come with grieving hearts, with minds numb, or angry – and filled with one insistent question
And to that I have no answer.
In his too-brief life, H REALLY lived. As you talked to me on Friday, it was clear that he was so much more than “just a little baby” - a real character who knew how to love, to smile and gurgle with pleasure, who clearly enjoyed many things – food, cuddles, sharing time with his family...
Of course, he was hugely loved in return – a baby so welcomed, so wanted that he was almost never alone, but took his place at the centre of many hearts.
His whole experience of life was a good one – secure and beloved.
So we are rightly appalled that the joy that he brought should be transformed so unexpectedly to the sorrow of parting.
We want answers, we want comfort – but truly, there ARE no easy words.
Our reading spoke of a love that is stronger than death – a love that survives all things – and the pain that you are feeling at the moment is evidence of the strength of your love.
At times of great suffering, people of faith look to their God for some explanation, some meaning, and when that is hard to come by they may at first turn away, defeated. God seems to be silent, even here in church – but behind me stands the cross – a reminder that God too went through the untimely death of his only Son...and that he is weeping with and for you.
What's more, when he came to share our life, Jesus also shared that sadness and desolation you feel in the face of your loss.
As he faced his own death ,He felt himself cut off from his heavenly Father and cried out words that will seem very real to you
“My God, my God why have you abandoned me?”
It's a question he borrowed from the book of Psalms, an ancient collection of prayers and religious poems in which men and women are completely real with God...Faced with situations that make no sense pour out their anger and misery in passionate lament, again and again and again.
The cry, they rage – but they keep the conversation with God going, because it seems to them that only God has shoulders broad enough to hold them through the storms til the worst of their heartbreak and anger is past.
Their protests, though, are an act of faith – that someone IS still listening....
This contemporary prayer does much the same job
God, we are told you are compassionate:
today this is hard to believe.
God, we are told that you love us:
today we do not feel loved.
God, we are told that we should offer you our praise and thanksgivings,
today all we have to offer is anger and confusion.
God, despite these feelings we turn to you,
today there is no one else to turn to.
God, hold us until we can believe again.
God, love us until we can feel your love again.
God, accept our anger and confusion until we can offer you praise and thanksgiving again.
God, our lives and our feelings rise and fall but you remain constant.
Help us to rest in your eternal changelessness.
For the moment, that might be the best you can hope for.
You have a long, hard journey ahead of you – and though many of us will want to walk beside you, to support you with our love and our prayers, I'm afraid there are really no short cuts.
Love WILL get you through....for love is the strongest thing in the universe...stronger than sadness, stronger than despair, stronger even than death.
Conceived in love, carried and born in love, H knew nothing but love through each precious day of his life. We all know that if love were enough to keep him alive, he'd be here in your arms today, - and it is in that love that he will live all your lives long.
And, more, I am certain that with God nothing is ever lost or wasted.
The love the brought Jesus through the darkness of death into the dawn of everlasting life on Easter morning now holds H secure and reaches out to each of us today.
It's hard to feel it as we struggle with grief but, like the sun behind clouds, God's love exists even when it is hidden...
Always, no matter what, Love wins.
For now there are faith, hope and love – but the greatest of these is love.