I believe that life is eternal and that there is an afterlife. Some struggle more with this belief than I do, and that’s okay—no judgment. It just seems to me that there must be an ultimate purpose in living—that our lives are leading up to something more. I believe this because resurrection is also a key Christian message I see patterned throughout the cosmos. Richard Rohr says it so beautifully: “…[T]he pattern of transformation is always death transformed, not death avoided. The universal spiritual pattern is death and resurrection, or loss and renewal…We ordinarily learn to submit and surrender to this scary pattern only when reality demands it of us, as it is doing now. Christians are helped by the fact that Jesus literally submitted to it and came out more than okay” (https://cac.org/death-transformed-2020-04-12/. I find this very good news, and I keep thinking of what the Apostle Paul said in that powerful passage about love in 1 Corinthians 13: Love never ends. The love we experience in relationship never ends—it, like the energy that animates our earthly bodies, just gets transformed. Love, relationship, and energy are eternal, like God is eternal.
Our congregation suffered two great losses earlier this month: Jim Gaspar and Fred Rhoads. We mourn those losses because our loved ones are not physically with us the way we are used to. It was good the way they used to be here with us—with their spouses, their families, and with their friends, singing in the choir. It was good because God intends and creates this life to be good. In Genesis 1 God repeatedly calls material creation “good.” And yet, good as it is, there is more. We just don’t see it clearly yet. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul puts it this way: For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. We can’t fully know the enormous Presence that underlies material reality—not yet anyway.
And so, we say our goodbyes to Jim and Fred, at least for now. Actually, the German language says this much better (theologically speaking). “Auf Wiedersehen” implies that we will see each other again. I believe this with all of my heart. In the meantime, let us be with one another in our mutual losses even as we have a blessed hope.