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Posts Tagged ‘coffin’

I was in the middle of one of those surreal kind of experiences.  As the rain came pelting down, I focussed all my attention on keeping up with the car in front of me, who in turn was trying to keep up with the one in front of it.  We were both part of a funeral procession, wending its way at quite a fast pace through unfamiliar streets in an unfamiliar town.  I had to get to the lawn cemetery – after all, I was leading the service there for my young friend who had passed away after a long illness.

The rain had eased by the time we arrived, but the clouds hung low on the surrounding mountains, dark and threatening.  Very tentatively, I squelched my way across the grass towards the designated spot.  People were gathered around in a horseshoe shape, only a few able to shelter beneath the nearby canopy.

I began the service.  I read the beautiful, age-old words of Psalm 23:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul. …

I prayed, committing my friend’s body to its resting place and her soul to God.  I was vaguely aware, as we each placed a flower provided for us on the coffin and said our final goodbyes, that the sky had cleared and the sun was shining.  I was focussed on the next part of the service, however – I hoped it would be just what her parents wanted and  needed.  I thought I had known how it should all go – but then it came to me.  We would sing the simple old chorus ‘Be still and know that I am God’ together, as my friend’s coffin was lowered into the ground.

And as we did, unbeknown to me, but visible to the mourners as they stood facing me, the clouds parted a little above the surrounding mountains – and a beautiful rainbow appeared.  It was a sacred moment.  God was present, offering peace, comfort and hope in the midst of great sadness.

The rain held off until most people had left.  At home once again, I emailed a friend, telling her what had happened.  She wrote back, almost immediately, still in shock.  That day, she had prayed specifically for a rainbow of hope for the grieving family, as a tangible sign of comfort and encouragement to them.

God knows.  God cares.  I am sure of that.

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