Amazing grace funeral

Amazing Grace. We say this, sing this, today – and express it on many different levels – Amazing Grace.

But how can God’s grace be amazing, when doing what we do today reminds us again of the hurt and pain of losing Grace a couple of months ago? How can God’s grace be amazing when it sometimes feels like it means nothing, that God is distant, disconnected and uninterested in our plight here on earth – especially when we suffer?

Amazing Grace. And yet, when we remember Grace, in a sense she was amazing because she brought to you and to all those people she met in her life, the blessing of her commitment, her creativity, her dedication, her humour, etc., etc. Yes, Amazing Grace! Thanks be to God!

The funeral of Lincoln Alexander was set for October 26. He was the first black Canadian Member of Parliament and former lieutenant-governor of Ontario.

Last weekend I watched the morning news on TV announcing details of his funeral. And then the news switched to the faces of some of his family, friends and politicians who shared some generous words about their loved one.

She gave the profound image of his hands. After all he was a big, tall man. How this person was related to Lincoln Alexander I did not catch. But what she was going to miss most, she said, were those hands of his holding her, and providing comfort and support to her in times of need.

And then, in the midst of her speech, the news clip ended abruptly, moving onto the next news item, something to do with the presidential debates south of the border. In the style of throwing out fast-paced, short sound-bite news segments, the TV news report gave me the impression that she had in fact more to say. It left me wondering, and wanting for, how she finished her comments.

Your beloved Grace is no longer with you. The death of a loved one can sometimes feel like an abrupt ending. No matter how old or how young we are at the end, it may feel like there was still more to say, still more to do – things that we will never now know, experience or witness on earth. And that hurts.

I’ll never know for sure what Lincoln Alexander’s loved one said to end that media scrum which never got to air. And I’ll never know in precise detail, this side of heaven, what exactly lies for me and for you and for Grace beyond the gate of death.

But I do know this: It’s not over. The meaning and value of our lives do not evaporate into nothingness even though our bodies die. Even though the ‘channel is switched’ so to speak.

Because the story, the Word, continues, even though I am not there! Even though I can’t see it all the time, I am held in the loving arms of my Creator forever. That story never ends.

Beyond death, I will continue to be embraced by the hands that fashioned me even before I was born (Psalm 139:13-18). Even more so – that my God will take me home and return me into the arms of Jesus (John 14:1-6). I will be joined forever in the household of heaven with all the saints, and shine in the pure joy and brilliance of all that is of God. This is Grace’s story now.

In the meantime, we on earth are not separated from those who have died. There are characteristics, personality-traits, memories of Grace all of which you now hold dearly in your heart. And which in some tangible, mysterious way, manifest themselves in our lives. I encourage you to look for those “Grace” moments. You may have already experienced some of these moments of recognition — being aware of a holy connection with the mystery of Grace’s spiritual presence.

The grace of God is truly amazing. It’s a wonderful play on words, isn’t it? We are talking about the grace of God and we are talking about Grace who was amazing. Amazing Grace.

Thank you God, for Grace. Thank you God for your grace. Hold us all in your Amazing Grace. Amen.

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