Monday, 8 February 2010

For Glen Bell with Reference to Isa 25.6-9 and John 14.1-6

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
Glen made an excellent choice in this reading for his funeral. There’s rich imagery here about where God has chosen to meet humans and what that will be like.
Mountains are significant meeting places with God in the Bible. The great Moses met God on one. The even greater Jesus delivered his first sermon on one (the Sermon on the Mount). Jesus was also in the habit of going up on mountains to pray. He once took some of his disciples up a high mountain to pray, there the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white and he met and talked with Elijah and Moses.
On the mountain of the LORD there will be a feast of well aged and refined wine and rich food to be enjoyed in the presence of the Living God, the God who lovingly created Glen, who loves him still, and in whose presence Glen now is.
There’s more about this mountain:
And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
One day death itself will be swallowed up forever. In the presence of God on that mountain, there’ll be no more days like this. No more cancer. No more tears.
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Glen didn’t want to die, but he wasn’t afraid because he knew about the mountain of the LORD and he knew that in God he would find salvation.
How does that work? We heard something about it in the other reading Glen chose.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
…said Jesus.
Why trust in God? Because, like the songs says, it’s a wonderful world even in the midst of sorrow and pain. God made it all, trees of green, red roses, skies of blue, white clouds, the rainbow promise, Glen, and all of us. Why? For his pleasure and to enjoy those “bright blessed days” and “dark sacred nights,” and to offer and enjoy those handshakes, hugs and kindnesses that really say, “I love you.” This wonderful world that Glen enjoyed so much, reveals the God he trusted in. The goodness in it is a foretaste of the mountain of the LORD and of a house full of love and of many, many rooms. The one Jesus told us about in the reading from John.
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Even as he suffered physically, Glen’s heart was not troubled about eternal things. He trusted in God and he trusted that Jesus had prepared one of those rooms for him. So we don’t have to worry about Glen any more.
What about we who are left? It’s hard not to let our hearts be troubled and it can be hard to trust God and Jesus at times like this. Yet Jesus says he has gone on ahead to prepare places for each of us, too, if we want one, and he says,
You know the way to the place where I am going."
But some of us, like Thomas, may be saying,
"Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
This is his answer.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I believe Glen believed that, and in believing, secured his room reservation.

Days like today bring us face to face with some uncomfortable facts of life, and death. Because of Glen’s life and example, and because our relationships with him or with Stella and his family, today we have the opportunity to ponder some deep and important things. Is the wonderful world we enjoy in this life really our entrance way into an even more wonderful world with mountain feasts of rich food and well aged wine, and a loving, heavenly Father’s house full of many rooms warmed and secured by the presence and love of Jesus? And is trust in Jesus the only way to secure a reservation in one of those rooms? (Glen believed so and so do I.) And if it is true then it is very, very important that, just as in his illness Glen prepared himself for the next stage of his life with grace and humour, we prepare ourselves for our future by seriously considering the readings from the Bible Glen chose for us to hear this afternoon and acting to secure our reservations.