Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Thursday, November 2, 2023

YEAR A 2023 all souls

All Souls, 2023
Wisdom 3:1–9
Psalm 130
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18
John 5:24-27

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

There is a saying, usually attributed to Bansky, the British street artist, “They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing, and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”  It’s a pretty bleak thought; but for most of us, it’s true.  Usually, within a couple generations, no one will be saying our names anymore, because no one will be thinking of us anymore.

Of course, some people—particularly rich people—go to great lengths to avoid this fate.  When my German friend was on tour with us once in Minnesota, he was shocked at how many buildings on a college campus had people’s names on them.  We asked, “don’t people pay for buildings in Germany?”  He said, “yes, but they would never have their name put on them.”  Interesting.  

Our friends in the Orthodox tradition end their funeral rite by saying, “Memory eternal.”  Which is not to suggest that people would always remember the person who has died.  Rather, that God would remember them forever.  You can see the connection to the thief on the cross, who asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom.  And how does Jesus respond to that request?  Today, you will be with me in paradise.

On this night, we gather together to remember those we love but see no longer.  Or, as the bidding prayer from Lessons and Carols puts it, “Let us remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no one can number.”

Tonight, we will say the names of those we love, who are counted among that multitude.  And we trust that even when we have long stopped saying their names, or having our own names spoken, God will continue to speak our names, in the place where our memories will be eternal.  Because of the redeeming love of Jesus, who welcomes us all, and remembers us in his kingdom.


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