For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
~ Ephesians 2:10
John Denver years ago penned these words as he wrote the song, "Poems, Prayers and Promises,"
"And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it's been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow."
As I sit and write two funeral sermons this morning, I think of the lives of two very different people who did not know one another, were from completely different places in the world, and lived in generations separated by time and ideas.
One was a man, who fought in the second great war, and photographed cities that were still on fire after an atomic bomb decimated the landscape and the people who lived there. He didn't share much of those days, but swore to God that he would never be unkind to another soul the rest of his life, and worked hard to be a faithful follower to that promise.
The other, a woman who immigrated to this country to have a "better life." She worked in the medical field as a nurse, helping people with mental illness, broke down barriers as she married her girlfriend and raised two daughters, always relating to others that her faith taught her that God is love, and that she could be both Christian and gay, bringing others to understand that God's love is unconditional, and so was hers.
While these two were very different from one another, the common thread of Christ, helped to reflect that the tapestry of God's creation is both different, and created in a way, that God can be made known.
So often we struggle to understand how a person so different from us can still be reflective of God's image. It is in encounters like these that I can point and say, There is clearly God's face."
I am reminded that every time that I look in the mirror that I am looking at a reflection of my own face, having not ever been able to look directly at my face to know how others truly see me.
"And I have to say it now
It's been a good life all in all
It's really fine
To have a chance to hang around."
Our faith is to be simple and uncomplicated. In the gospel of Matthew we are reminded not to judge others, unless we are willing to be judged as well, and by the same standards in which we find ourselves judging others. (Matthew 7)
As I find words to comfort both of these families during the losses that they have now encountered, I will address them both as "blessed," and "beloved by God."
I will remind them both of the great faith both of these people possessed, and how they prayed and encountered God in the same valley of the shadow of death.
Finally, I will remind them that we are God's poem (Greek word for workmanship found in Ephesians is "poemia" - We are God's poem, created by God to do God's will - Eph 2:10) and how we are called to live into God's promises.
I guess Denver had it right, "Poems, prayers and promises," are indeed the things that we live into, and experience each day.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.