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11 November 2010

Hesed, rahamim and 'amunah

At my mother's funeral service just over a week ago, I read these words from Romans 8: "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann reminds us that Israel again and again recalled what he describes as "the three great pivot words of faith": God's steadfast love (hesed), God's compassion (rahamim), and God's covenant faithfulness ('amunah).

"Sometimes I feel like a motherless child" ... I know in my bones why that metaphor is so powerful. At times it's as though I have aged a thousand years during that one week I was in Germany for my mother's funeral. I miss her touch, her voice, her smile, her spirit, her passion, her compassion, her love. I miss her dry humor and her quirky East Prussian expressions. I miss the music that lived in her heart.  Grief takes time; the heart must make room for its loss.

And even as I grieve, my faith affirms that nothing can separate me from the passionate love of my God, ever. Like faith carried my mother through almost 87 years, my faith will carry me. The loss of my mother's earthly life does not mean that God's power and resolve have been disrupted. Because God remains steadfast, compassionate and faithful, I can go forth with confidence, even with joy. In the Old Testament lesson for November 14, God announces that he creates a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17) -- and the Hebrew suggests that this new creation is not far in the future, but now.  Even as the God of Life makes everything new, he will heal the grieving hearts in our family.

O God, full of compassion, Who dwells on high, grant true rest upon the wings of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), in the exalted spheres of the holy and pure, who shine as the resplendence of the firmament, to the soul of Karin Wendt, daughter of Fritz Rohse. May the All-Merciful One shelter her with the cover of His wings forever, and bind her soul in the bond of life. The Lord is her heritage; may she rest in her resting-place in peace; and let us say: Amen.

Romans 8:31-39; Isaiah 65:17-25

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