38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Several months ago, my mother passed from this world and I was searching for bible passages that would be suitable to read at her memorial service. The passage above came up on almost every list of suggested verses for funerals and was often the top choice. Indeed, I did select this as a reading and reflecting upon this passage, it occurred to me that perhaps this is not such an obvious choice. Many other passages speak of the resurrection of the spirit and the glory of existing with God in the heavenly realm, which can certainly be comforting when grieving for those departed. Why then does this text, which speaks to the invincibility of God’s love, bring such consolation in a time of pain and sorrow?
Many people experience pain and suffering during their last days, and sometimes years, on earth. While Paul admonishes us to bear our sufferings gladly, this is very hard to do at the end of a terminal illness. Nevertheless, God’s love is present even at those times. It is like the electricity that runs the lights, the bedside monitors and scanning equipment. It is an unseen power that is essential although not necessarily felt in moments of great distress. I have heard passing from this life to the next described as passing into the light and that seems right to me. It’s as if God’s love is then fully exposed, like a powerful solar flare, not constrained by the restrictions of this mortal realm. How delightful it is to think of our departed loved ones being totally enveloped by the light and warmth of that experience! Yet, the beauty of the passage is that it also speaks to the mourner, with the certain assurance that the power of God’s love continues to pulse through the complex weaving of our own lives. Our emotions and courage may be shattered, but the deep electrical current will continue to fill us with amperes of love.
Loving God, bless me with the strength to plug into your current of endless love to illuminate and heal my heart. Grant me grace to be a candle that brings your light into this world. Amen.