The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like annihilation; but they are in peace. If they experienced punishment as men see it, their hope was rich with immortality;
slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be. God has put them to the test and proved them worthy to be with him; he has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a holocaust.
When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out; as sparks run through the stubble, so will they.
They shall judge nations, rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king for ever. They who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.
Psalm 22 The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
“Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men.”
There was a story published in the US press many years ago of a young man who suffering a deep depression stood on the edge of the Golden Gate bridge to jump off and end his life. A police officer trying to talk him down had to lurch forward to grab the man’s ankles when suddenly he went over the side of the bridge. The officer held on to the young man tightly but the force of the young man’s weight, and the speed with which he jumped over began to take the officer with him. The officer was fortunate to have back up and several others worked to bring both the officer and the young man back onto the decking of the bridge. Asked afterwards by the media, why he risked his own life to save the life of the young man who wanted to die anyway, he responded, “If I had let him go to his death, I guess a part of me would have died with him also.”
A simple statement but a fundamental truth, “It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.”
What comes to my mind is an image of a god who grabs hold of our ankles. He doesn’t let us go on our own but when we go God goes with us. Just as in Jesus, God lives our human life and dies our human death, even now God remains with us always, never letting go of us in our living and our dying.
We pray today for All Souls. Especially those who have passed over to another form of life. And while we of course remember our loved one’s, perhaps we could pray for the thousands of innocent souls who do not have a chance to come to know their oneness with God. And particularly at this time the over 8,000 dead in Palestine and Israel, and over 500,000 in invasion of Ukraine.