Saturday, October 03, 2009

'In the midst of life we are in death...'

I am sitting at home trying to focus on preparing for tomorrow and yet I am well aware that not far from here are two people who are taking their last steps on the journey through life.

I know both of them reasonably well, and I know they have both lived rich, full and varied lives. Neither of them are particularly aged. Yet, from the safe distance of my study, even from the distance of being their priest and not a member of their respective families, it is perhaps inevitable that together we will feel cheated of their presence in the days that lie ahead, knowing that there are many stories about their lives we have not heard, that we will not hear the tone of their voice, the firm shake of a hand or the warmth of an embrace or the tenderness of a kiss. There are also lives that will be shattered by loss, and all of our worlds will feel their lack. Something... someone will be missing.

It is into this maelstrom of bereavement that I offer these prayers in the hope that they might help us pray into the days ahead, relying the compassion and presence of the Lord of Life.

¶ Prayer for a dying person

Eternal God,
grant to your servant
and to us who surround him/her with our prayers
your peace beyond understanding.
Give us faith, the comfort of your presence,
and the words to say to one another and to you,
as we gather in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶Prayer when someone has just died

The minister, a family member or a friend may use some or all of these words

In this moment of sorrow the Lord is in our midst
and consoles us with his word:

No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him.

Blessed are the sorrowful; they shall be comforted.

Into your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our brother/sister N .
In this life you embraced him/her with your tender love,
and opened to him/her the gate of heaven.
The old order has passed away,
as you welcome him/her into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain,
but the fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Heavenly Father,
into whose hands Jesus Christ
commended his spirit at the last hour:
into those same hands we now commend your servant N ,
that death may be for him/her
the gate to life and to eternal fellowship with you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Remember, O Lord,
this your servant,
who has gone before us with the sign of faith
and now rests in the sleep of peace.
According to your promises,
grant to him/her and to all who rest in Christ,
refreshment, light and peace;
through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Most merciful God,
whose wisdom is beyond our understanding,
surround the family of N with your love,
that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss,
but have confidence in your goodness,
and strength to meet the days to come.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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