Monday, May 20, 2013

Thirty-four Years Later


We celebrated our 34th anniversary on the 19th. It was a quiet and reflective celebration. We went to lunch after church, nothing special, just nice and quiet. We were given complimentary desserts following the meal.

My devotional from yesterday read: "Our Holy calling [asks us] to live with an open-handed, open-hearted generosity and abandon, holding tightly to that which comes from God and willingly letting everything else go."  –Martha Highsmith, Disciplines 2012 That was an appropriate anniversary devotional, don’t you think?

We also realize that in our current society everything conspires against longevity in marriage. Marriage is a sacred trust. We have not always done everything right. We still don’t. Forgiveness is a large part of marriage as well as looking out for the other’s best interest.

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this before, but this is a second marriage for both of us. We had history going into this. I brought a daughter into the marriage so we had a ready-made family.

I’ve found that some churches are not as forgiving about divorce as society is. We came to faith after four years of marriage and this issue seemed to be held over our heads and we were not allowed to participate in certain ministries of the church. We were treated as “less than”. I asked one of the church leaders if the forgiveness we had received from Christ was therefore conditional. He had no response to my query.

That is not what I wanted to focus on in this post, however. I want to focus on mortality. I’ve noticed that not a lot of “Boomers” seem to have their affairs in order. No wills or trusts. No pre-arranged funeral plans. Nothing left to say what they would like to have in the way of a memorial or funeral.

Husband and I have pre-arranged plans, so yesterday we discussed for a bit purchasing “shrouds” or some such thing as we have chosen cremation for our plans. I told him I though purchasing nice (but not real expensive) sheets for that time would work well. I also told him that I want the person in charge to allow me to “dress” him (Husband) when the time comes.  Should it be the other way around, then him to dress me. The final care, I suppose and a step in the healing process.

Husband’s mother is 92. We hope she goes before we do as cremation appalls her. It does for a lot of persons. I learned there are some wonderful choices available, such as having your ashes placed into soil with a tree to be planted in memory of the loved one. Nice urns of course, to display the loved one. We’re thinking a columbarium niche for final interment.

I believe I will leave you with an assignment today. It is a difficult assignment. Write your own obituary. What is it you want people to know and/or remember about you when you’ve passed on? Write it out.

I have a file that is titled “In The Event Of”  for that very purpose. I can tell you in all honesty that purchasing a pre-arranged plan, leaving directions for a service (to include musical selections) and writing a will or trust are the easy parts. The obituary is the difficult part.

The phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” comes from the funeral service in the Book of Common Prayer, and it is based on Genesis 3:19. That passage says that we begin and end as dust. Where did the ashes come from? The compilers of the Book of Common Prayer were careful to produce what is called metrical text—text that when a congregation reads it, it all comes out even. So they pulled in Genesis 18:27 and Job 30:19, in which dust and ashes are both components of the human body. 

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” is poetic. That exact phrase is not in the Bible, but it is Biblical through and through.

Each church of the Anglican Communion has its own version of the Book of Common Prayer. In the current American version, this phrase appears on page 485 (Burial Rite 1) and on page 501 (Burial Rite 2) in a prayer that is said by the priest as earth is ceremonially cast on the coffin:

In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother ; and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace. Amen.
The funeral service is poignantly meaningful and a literary masterpiece that has rightly become part of the literary treasure of the English language. You’d be surprised how many pastors whose churches have no formal liturgy use the Book of Common Prayer as a worship resource.  From http://www.kencollins.com/answers/question-27.htm

Simply yours,
Tamara

Psalm 48:14
Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide [even] until death.