I wrote this for the funeral of a church member. I was not able to be at the funeral. Writing this helped some.
Someone posed this question in an on-line conversation group, “What language will we speak in heaven?” There were several good responses, I thought. One person said that we will speak “with one voice”, another that we will speak the language of the angels. Someone else said that we will not need language, and yet another person said that we will speak the language of love. But the answer that most stuck with me is this one, ‘Music.” In heaven we will speak music.
I suppose this answer stuck with me because last Thursday afternoon, I went to visit C.and A (his wife), and members of their family at Nursing Home, where he lived. It was immediately obvious when I walked in the door that this was a place where C was known and loved; it was familiar and beautiful and filled with people he loved. And I must confess that, though I have been in many nursing homes and many hospitals rooms, and I’ve prayed with many people, I had a moment of shyness when I saw C. What kind of prayers should I pray? What should I say? Because of his Alzheiemers, C had not spoken for a while, and I didn’t know what he would understand. I realized how much I depend on words to communicate. What language will we speak in heaven?
For some strange reason (perhaps the Holy Spirit) I had picked up my small red hymnal when I left the church. I sort of wondered if we should sing. A thought we should sing. So we sang – A's choice – “Beautiful Savior” -- and everyone was singing, in harmony. And about halfway through the song C was singing too. After that we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in harmony, and some other hymns. We closed with ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” although I do believe that there were a couple of encores.
I thought I was hearing the language of heaven that day. Just a few people, gathered around a bed, singing songs of love, and C was singing along on every one. You can forget a lot of things, but it turns out that music, like God’s love, gets so far down inside you that even if you forget, it won’t let you go. It’s an imprint on our soul, like the sign of the cross is an imprint on our foreheads, “Child of God, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked by the cross of Christ forever.”
I thought I was hearing the language of heaven that day. I came to minister to C and A, and they ministered to me. I thought about all of the times I have heard C and A sing duets, at Sunday worship, for funerals, at Matins. I have been humming some of those songs these past few days, the language of heaven, which, as it turns out, is also the language of love, imprinted on our souls, that God won’t let us forget.
Yes indeed, music is the language of heaven, and, as it turns out, that is a language that C spoke well. He spoke it so well he taught it to his family and he taught it to many, many children, including children in this congregation. He taught it to me, too.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.”
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you….”
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
What language will we speak in heaven?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise him all creatures here below
Praise him above you heavenly host
Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost.