This week of focusing on hope has also been focused on mortality. This is a very interesting pair. Although in the church, it is not a pair that is surely an oxymoron. Mortality brings hope for resurrection for those who believe in such things.
The experience of mortality can take multiple formats. Mortality can be experienced as just knowing that someone passed away. Mortality can also be experienced as a funeral with all the emotions that brings.
Listening to the readings and the music on Monday made me ponder--if I had a choice, which readings and songs would I want to be chosen to represent me.
The readings are somewhat easy. I would go with the reading from Ecclesiastes that Sherry and I had at our wedding. Not because I associate the wedding with death, of course. But because it is timeless and it matches well with one of the songs that was sung at the funeral mass on Monday: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
The Psalm, also easy. Psalm 23--the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. In any of its many forms either spoken or musical.
The second reading--focusing on hope, as well as faith, and most importantly love--1 Corinthians, 13:1-13. This ends with the verse that started me writing my personal blog.
Finally, the Gospel would be an interesting choice. I'd actually go with Luke 23:33-43. Not because I think that the focus on death would be the right thing. But because of Jesus's forgiveness no matter what the soldiers did and because of the criminal who asked Jesus, "remember me, when you come into your kingdom." I like the focus on God's kingdom. And I like Jesus's response. As Father Sam once pointed out, the criminal is the only one Jesus actually told he would be brought into heaven.
Songs: Amazing Grace, Be Not Afraid, something with Psalm 23, Take My Hand Precious Lord, Take Me Home. All easy. All typical. I'd really have nothing to add on this one.
If there were a communion meditation song that was potentially non-religious, also a theme from Sherry's and my wedding--"Don't Know Much." Maybe most would see it as a throw back to a "sappy" 1980's love song. However, I would see it as a song of hope. There may be many things I don't know. But I would hope that everyone who showed up at the funeral would be someone to whom I had shown love. I would hope that everyone who showed up at the funeral would be someone who felt love for me. Love in a broad, general, friendly sense, of course.
The key is that it is a song of hope and simplicity. I only need to know that there is love. Once I know that, everything else will follow in some way, shape, or form. And that is a message that I hope others will have seen in my actions.
Comes back to the question of "if I were on trial for being Christian would there be enough evidence to convict me?" I hope that my actions of love and acceptance would be part of that evidence.
The opportunity to have so many messages that are dear to me so clearly communicated by word and music would be wonderful. Of course, I hope that the opportunity to share these lessons does not come too soon. While one of the readings on Monday was about the joy of marriage, I find the links to the same readings we used at our wedding to be a way to point out the importance of marriage. The same fundamental ideas that have guided me for the last 22 1/2 years continue to guide me. And I suspect they always will.
If those who come to my funeral some day can take with them the lessons that have guided me, I will be understood. And while Saint Francis's prayer says I should not seek so much to be understood as to understand, at that point, I can't do any more understanding and the best I can hope for is that being understood will inspire others.