This past weekend, Michael and I traveled to Lexington, KY for a memorial service for the Rev. Dr. Homer D. Carter. He was an instrumental mentor and pastor in Michael's own faith journey and beloved by many who were blessed to have known him.
Whether I am attending a funeral or officiating at one, I am always struck by the difficulty in fully summarizing someone's life. Many of my words seem to be inadequate in encompassing the totality of a person. Memories of specific events and characteristics highlight pieces of them. Pictures and mementos claim moments in their lives. Obituaries give us a brief glimpse into their families, work and life history. And yet, each of our beloved family and friends are so much more than even the abundance of these memories, photograhs and words.
St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians that "love never ends" (I Corinthians 13:8). This "love" chapter is most often used for weddings and more romantic occasions. Yet, the fullness of this love is revealed, for me, most often at death. Love encompasses not just the person that we are grieving, but even more, the God who revealed the magnitude and power of his love.
Death is often viewed as the rolling credits at the end of people's lives or even called that "final curtain". Yet, for us as Christians, we see not the end but the continuation of lives that have been claimed by Christ. Through the cross and the tomb, Christ raised the curtain of death to reveal eternal life. And we experience this eternity through love.
I did not stop loving my fathers or grandparents just because I can no longer see them in this earthly life. And their love is not buried with them under the earth. Love never ends. We continue to love. We come to know and believe that even our deepest sorrow cannot erase our love for one another - because our love is received and given by the Greatest Love of them All, Christ our Lord. Love endures, withstands and overcomes all the pain and sorrow of this world because it has raised the curtain on death and revealed the fullness of God's love for us.
We may not be able to put into words the fullness of a person's life, but we can know and trust that the true summary of their lives is in the love that God blessed us to share with one another and that continues on into eternity.