Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
There was a ship preparing to leave the dock for a voyage upon the open sea. Those departing gathered on the deck for the sail away, leaning against the rails of the great liner, hoping to catch a final glimpse of the loved ones who would be joining them later. On the shore they waved goodbye, blew kisses, and shed more than a few tears.
Parting is inescapable. Parting is common to all humans.
Shakespeare wrote the words for Juliet to speak:
“Parting is such sweet sorrow. That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
We part to say goodnight, never really knowing when or if we will see our dear ones again.
The ship begins to move; the cords that tethered her to this world are released. As she pulls from the dock, the faces grow dim, the waving hands grow indistinguishable as the distance lengthens, and soon the ship crests the horizon. Soon she is totally out of sight.
The dock slowly empties, there are errands to run and homework to complete, families return to their homes, lives, and routines. Life goes on, but is never the same. There is now an empty chair at the table and a void that cannot, will not, ever be filled.
On the new horizon a new shore becomes visible; the ship is approaching land, those on deck gaze forward to see the unfolding of a long-promised reunion. Soon they see them, waving from the shore, waiting for their arrival, tears of joy in their eyes. Their faces are recognizable now. It seemed like only yesterday when they broke bread and drank wine together, when they held hands as death drew close. It seemed like only yesterday, that those on shore were on the open ocean, standing on the deck, parting one world and arriving in another.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away… and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: ‘See now God’s home is with people, he will dwell with them, they will be his people and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away… I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the end.” A vision of heaven from Revelation 21.
I was on the ferry last week. We have so many in our parish who are in hospice care, dying, fleeing from, or leaning into death. I dozed off for a few minutes. I was startled from my brief slumber by familiar words: “We are arriving at our destination; please gather your personal belongings and prepare to disembark.”
For a moment I imagined arriving at the other shore, with no possessions, no worries, no schedules, leaning into the light of eternal life, being reunited with my father and mother and others that I have waved goodbye to. We are all in that ferry line, waiting to depart, not far behind those who have gone before us.
One ferry, maybe two, a few months or a few decades; the time will pass quickly, and we will go home. We will not long to go back; we will not cry over work left undone. Regrets and shame will be gone. We will be finally at peace.
There was a ship preparing to leave the dock for an unknown voyage upon the open sea. The ship has come for you or me. I will see you on the dock, I will see you on the deck, I will wave to you from the shore. I am not sure what waits for us, but I am sure that I will see you on the other side.
Living into the mystery, I am your,
Remember that we have changed to our summer schedule with worship services at 8:00 & 10:00 a.m.