Free of Earthly Chains – Commending the Soul of a Caring Man into God’s Hands
Earlier this week, I led a funeral service for a beloved man in New Hampshire, who lived his whole life in the local area. The essence of this person was CARING. He cared a huge amount for his family, but perhaps most amazing was the abundance of care he gave to those outside his family, to everyone nearby. He would never let anyone go without. If someone, like his neighbors, needed help, he’d help them – with money, with food, with whatever he could. With the kids on the street, he’d make sure they had breakfast and were clean. He’d snow blow his neighbor’s yard, because he knew that person had worked all night, and would want to come home to a clean yard.
Losing such a good human being naturally makes us very sad, and we should definitely take all the time we need to grieve. But his family invited us to also feel the joy of his life and the hope and beauty that comes from an everlasting connection with this wonderful person: the transcendence of Love over Death. And so they asked me to share some words from the Bible – from the Book of Revelations, Chapter 21.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away…And He said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
After some sweet and tender memories were shared by his family, this beloved person was laid to rest at the local cemetery, with the following committal prayer:
“That which is of the earth is returned to the earth. That which is of God returns now to God. May ________ now be free of earthly chains.
We do not mark a separation of his spirit from ours, but only of his spirit from its earthly body. Because this body housed him and served him during his time with us, we lovingly lay it to rest within the earth…. God of All Creations, we commend the soul of your son __________ into Your hands….Help us to know that in the circle of eternity, in the Light of Your boundless grace, we will all meet again.” Amen.