Today we gathered with friends and family to say goodbye to an old friend. It was bittersweet in the way that memorials are; sadness and tears in the immediacy of loss, but also a special and particularly heartwarming gathering, seeing some friends again after long absence, and smiling at personal stories and memories of the life we were celebrating.
The service was beautifully simple. By the standard of so many I’ve attended it was actually brief. But the words that were shared touched me very deeply in that they were to the point. They didn’t require an accompanying sermon. They required no amplification. The few short readings shared from The Book of Common Prayer said all that needed to be said.
The family chose a scripture reading I’ve heard dozens of times before, but today the words gained life as they described a special, very kind man. The challenges are simple and clear; not so easy perhaps to live.
“Let love by genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:9-18
This reading fits the life our friend will be remembered for. I don’t see a lot of ego in this brief passage–perhaps these calming words are worth contemplating in a world that likes to stir up conflict. Peace.