The Funeral of A Child

Tomorrow at eleven, I shall celebrate the funeral of a three-year-old boy. It will be difficult for me, but a thousand times more difficult, of course, for the young parents, the grandparents and the rest of the family. Here was a young life full of promise, welcomed with love and longing by his family, and it all ended almost before it had begun.

The service for the funeral of a child is desperately moving; though, for the family, the liturgy of faith and hope will not be easy either to say or to hear. Yet I know that the family will survive, in one sense life will go on, and perhaps, in time, they will even be strengthened by this dark and awful experience.

All around us, as we share the service together and lay the tiny coffin deep within the earth, the priorities of our world will continue. People will go about their daily work, their shopping, and their gardens. Newspapers will lie on the kitchen table, with headlines about war in Iraq, President Obama, or the Royal Family.

For us, at the graveside, all the world will come to a standstill, just for a minute or two-there will be nothing more important than a small box and a few handfuls of soil. It seems like a parable on the subject of perspective.

Our perspectives for those fleeting moments will be unreservedly clear. Nothing else will matter. And then, of course, we shall return to what we call a ‘normal’ life, where perspectives are seldom clear and often hopelessly distorted. Before we know it, perhaps, the great and small issues of our days will take over, and it will be the price of petrol, or the continued rising deaths in Iraq that disturb our peace of mind.

Jesus accused some of the religious teachers of His time of ‘straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel’ - a very vivid way of saying that they’d got their priorities hopelessly out of perspective. Yet who, in our media-saturated world, really knows which are the gnats and which are the camels? What really matters, and what is of minimal and passing importance in the light of eternity?

In our moments of clear perspective, when our priorities are obvious, the values that tend to emerge are love, commitment, kindness, courage and hope. It’s when the tawdry agenda of every day takes over, celebrity, sport, news and gossip (which are often much the same thing) that we cater to the partisan, to cruel and unthinking words, and harsh, judgemental opinions.

It seems a pity that it takes, very often, tragedy or crisis to help us see things so clearly. As I stand by a child’s grave tomorrow morning, I hope I won’t be too quick to forget what I learn there.

Lord in Heaven, give us strength for our days ahead. Give peace and comfort and hope to those who are in turmoil, give rest to the weary. We pray also for perspective that we may understand Your will. Amen



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At 23:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was deeply touched by what you wrote. Last year I went to a funeral for a family who lost their baby. The minister seemed sincere but all he did was read from a card. I felt the family and the baby deserved more than that. But I had to keep my mouth shut. I love reading your blog. I'm always happier everytime I read anglicans. Even when its a sad subject like this. Thank you. Sheila K..

At 13:25, Anonymous Barbara_Grierson said...

Roberta Lawrence gave me your blog address. We were at Kaylie's funeral and you spoke with us. Thank you for all you have done for Roberta and Alan. They told me how you've helped them through this awful time. No parent should ever have to lose their own child especially under these circumstances. You have a special compassion for people who are in pain. The words you spoke made time stand still and helped us to focus on what really matters. Thank you for all you have done. Barb

At 11:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just to say thank you. God brought you to me when I needed help most.


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