For no reason I can remember, I put the ’90s classic Four Weddings and a Funeral on my Netflix queue and re-watched it recently.The scene etched in my mind all these years was that of the funeral. John Hannah, with his beautiful Scottish accent, reads “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden.
What the clip leaves off is the funeral officiant, presumably an Anglican priest, introducing the beloved partner of the man in the coffin as “his closest friend.”
There is much that we hope for, we who have cast our lot with Jesus of Nazareth. We hope for mercy, forgiveness, new life, eternal life. We hope for the promise of a new heart that—against all odds!—beats in sync with our Maker, as promised by the prophet Ezekiel. We hope for the relief from pain, for relational wholeness, for freedom from the burden of crippling doubts and unmanageable burdens. We hope for heaven, whatever that might mean.
My friend Bill died recently. A brilliant scholar, he had suffered a number of strokes, and was being cared for in a facility that catered to patients with dementia and brain injuries. He decided that it was time to let nature take its course. He refused most food and medications, and died in short order, but he died fully confident in the resurrection life that lay ahead.
A few weeks later I was in the ER with a man in his mid-to-late nineties who had also suffered from a number of strokes.