Today I'll take a funeral for J, someone whose life was harder than I can begin to imagine.
He had been homeless, cut off from his family, suffered great physical damage on his way through life...so his best friend reminded me very forcefully that the word "sad" had no place in J's funeral. Taking other constraints into consideration too, I struggled to find the words.
I hope and pray that these may do.
Jesus said “Don't let your hearts be troubled”
Trust in God and trust in me.
There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home. If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I'm taking."
Thomas said, "Master, we have no idea where you're going. How do you expect us to know the road?" Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You've even seen him!"
Don't let your hearts be troubled
That's not something that comes naturally to most of us.
We do worry...about what's going on in our lives, about the mistakes we've made, and the way that we may have been hurt or may have hurt others,about the here and now and about what might happen next.
Like many of you, I'm sure J knew a great deal about the importance of being on the right road, of finding somewhere safe to spend the night and, I'm told, he worried about whether he would have a respectable death....
but you know, dying in his own bed, in his own home with a friend close by is pretty much as good as it gets.
That was one worry that turned out to be unnecessary...and J had learned, along the way, that he could trust God for most things.
He knew where he was going, and was sure that a welcome awaited him...
Trust in God and trust me
There is plenty of room for you in my Father's house
Room for all of us, no matter who we are, where we come from, what is going on in life....there is somewhere that we can always be sure of, a home where we really belong.
That's something to look forward to, - specially if things are difficult here and now.
I guess that at times we all struggle with the meaning of life, and wonder if actually there's any point to our being here.
But Jesus tells us that there is a way to find meaning...the way that he took, based on the selfless, self giving love that lead him to the cross só he could SHOW us just how much God loves us.
That's the love that surrounds us and holds us no matter what.
I wish I could say that knowing about God's love would make everything easy for everyone, every day – but that's not how it works.
Believing in God does not often change our physical situation, won't automatically lead to a charmed life, though it may gradually change how we cope when things are hard, what we do when things are good.
When we can't feel God's love, perhaps we can try to trust in it anyway – in the same way that we continue to believe that the sun is still there, even on a cold and cloudy day when we cannot feel its warmth.
You see, God's love ensures that nothing and nobody is ever lost or wasted.
God's love meets us on our darkest days and carries us through the darkness to a safe homecoming
God's love, shown in Jesus, clears the road ahead for us, supports us as we travel and, in the end, is there to welcome us, as today God welcomes J.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory, loved by God and precious in his sight.