I had a funeral today, an old woman, another widow of a World War II veteran, seamstress and wife and mother. To all outward appearances she was an ordinary person, except to her family, who cherished her kindness,tenacity, wicked sense of humor and perseverance in adversity.
Among the songs the family wanted to hear was an old standard, vintage, "I'll Be Seeing You." We usually don't have popular music in funeral services, but we try not to be too rigid about it, so we put it in, right after the remembrances and right before the Scripture readings and Sermon. It's a sentimental song, and I know it's a temptation to confuse sentiment with the gospel, but it did force me to think about some things a little more than usual. And even though it's not a religious song, I do, for some odd reason, love it.
So, after hearing the song, and during the sermon, I said this:
“And grace will lead me home.” That is true trust, trust in the sure foundation that each of us builds on in confidence. Because grace will lead us home, to the place where the evening light shines through the window, the place where God waits for us, where the place is prepared. Grace will lead us home, to the place where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, where death and mourning and crying will be no more. This is our hope.
During World War II, people grew familiar with partings and with separation, and they liked to sing, “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places/that this heart of mine embraces all day through.” They endured and they hoped for the day that they would be reunited, for the time when the war would be over, for the day when peace would return. They hoped for the day when their husbands, their sons, their fathers and mothers, their daughters --- would come home. “I’ll be seeing you… in all the old familiar places…" but our hope is even more: “I’ll be seeing you… where the home of God is among mortals, where he wipes away our tears, and makes all things new. I'll be seeing you when we beat our swords into plowshares, where the lion shall lie down with the lamb, when enemies will work together to rebuild cities. I'll be seeing you... where the blind will see, the hungry will eat, where we will dine together forever. I'll be seeing you where death and crying will be no more. "
And grace will lead us home.