St Stephen Lewisham
23rd August 200813
‘I see that all things come to an end, but…’
The Book of Psalms says: ‘I see that all things come to an end : but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
During the past few months St Stephen’s has seen the earthly end of the lives of three remarkable, but very different women, Dawn Lord, Anne my wife, and now Valda Brown.
Three more different women it’s impossible to imagine. Dawn was brain-damaged at birth; Anne was my wife; and Valda was, well, she was Valda: and we know how much all three of them meant, in so many different ways, to so many people who are here this morning (not least to myself).
But in spite of all their differences, all three had, and still have, one thing in common: they put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and that faith led them to believe that although ‘all things, including life on earth, ‘come to an end… [God’s] commandment is exceeding broad’, as the psalm says.
That means that God’s love towards us, and our duty to Him, are both everlasting – unlike our earthly lives. God proved this by the life, death and resurrection of His Son.
Those three readings we have just listened to all point towards this being true.
Wisdom says about the righteous – those who have ‘got it right’ about God – that although in the sight of the unwise they appeared to die… their hope is rich with immortality, and their blessings will be great.
St Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome goes a step further. He insists that ‘the sufferings of this present time cannot be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us… and that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God
And St John tells us that Jesus, just before His own death, commanded his disciples to ‘Trust in God still and trust in me… I am going to prepare a place for you and I shall return to take you with me… I am the way, the truth and the life.’
In the Mass which we are now celebrating we are obeying the ‘exceedingly broad commandment’ of Jesus to ‘do this as you have seen me do it’. Obeying that commandment, and their faith in Him, were the two things which united Dawn, Anne and Valda, despite all their differences.
Week by week they did what Jesus had told them to do. When they were too ill to get to church, the Church went to them in their homes to give them the Sacrament..
Then all three of them ‘died in faith’. So now all three of them are united with us ‘through this blest Sacrament of Unity’.
But more important than their unity with us is the fulfilment of their Unity with God, which only our death can bring about.
Because now all three of them are discovering the purpose for which He created both them and us, namely ‘to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever, world without end. Amen’.
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