Reflections – John 14:1-4
(Ed. – The networks remind us that such influences as Mary Tyler Moore, astronaut Eugene Cernan and Boston Bruin Milt Schmidt passed on in 2017. So did our mother in May at the good old age of 90. I was asked to offer reflections by her pastor and after some kind responses I hope this brief reflection may help you if you’ve suffered loss this past year.)
It’s always a privilege to speak in a church 3 years older than the nation of Canada.
“In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” There is a very broad consensus among our Christian denominations about what this refers to.
The great Christian writer C.S. Lewis began life as an atheist teaching English literature. What surprised him was how all the overtly Christian authors he studied – whether Anglican, Catholic or Puritan – “all had the same smell about them,” his phrase.
In essence they were all saying the same thing – like the Apostles Creed we have in our program today. (The best short summary of what we Christians hold in common.)
Today we have to ponder that because Jesus Christ lives inside the Christian, we believe that Death is not and cannot be the End.
In fact, there is every indication that the Faithful Departed are in a privileged position. They are no longer in relationship with Jesus while beset by fears and cares and troubles – the Christian struggle – (as good as this is), but have been ushered into His very divine Presence.
The veil has fallen away at last for Jesus has passed through it and taken us with Him, we read in Hebrews 10.
This is why Paul says emphatically: “I would rather depart and be with Christ.”
So we are here today in what we rightly call GOD’s HOUSE to pay a fitting reflection on the loving and faithful service of my mother, Frances Earle.
(Now I have to be careful here because I feel her at my shoulder saying, Now, Neil, don’t over-do it, don’t go on too much.)
Over there is the organ where she spent some of her happiest days – as a dutiful organist, choir member, and trainer of musicians.
Unless a whole battalion of Christian teachers and thinkers are all together wrong – from Thomas Aquinas to Billy Graham – and I don’t think they are – Mom’s death marks a profound advance in her Christian journey – from leading worship here on earth to ongoing worship in God’s House in the heavenly realms.
The Book of Revelation is full of references to this.
She has joined what Hebrews 12:24 calls the Assembly of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
Funerals are not pleasant but they can be STRONG REAFFIRMATIONS of what we all believe. We believe that her body will be reunited with her spirit at the Resurrection of the Just. But we believe that she has already entered into what John Calvin called “the beginning of her rest” as one of the Just made perfect (Rev. 14:13, 6:9-11, and Anglican Prayer Book, page 599).
So, mom has passed from a physical house of worship here below to the “house made without hands in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5).
In that light, then, we should not grieve as people who live as unbelievers but as BELIEVERS reaffirming our own faith in the Resurrection as our Lord has shown us.
At 2AM this Thursday morning, then, Mom passed over to the Beginning of her Eternal Reward.
And if she were here, I think (after knowing her for 70 years) I knew her well enough to say she would tell us something like this:
“Do not grieve unduly my friends. I will see you again, but right now my Lord has work for me as a Worshipper in the heavenly realms with other Worshippers who have gone before – many of whom you know. So please be comforted with these words and “let not your hearts be troubled.”
Neil Earle, May 7, 2016