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We “Can Only Imagine …” – The Hope of Our Lord’s Eternal Presence

January 12, 2012

The Homecoming of Elton Hellyer on Friday and the Celebration of Len Mountford’s life on Saturday have placed in the front of us in its central importance our hope of eternal communion with Our Lord. 

I pray that the following reflections, passages of Holy Scripture, and song will speak to us as we, perhaps, spend time this week especially praying and reflecting on this hope of our Lord’s eternal Presence, which we “can only imagine.”

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Death will not simply throw us back into the great flux of reality, as the pantheist’s picture of beatitude would have us believe. Nevertheless in death we are caught up, overwhelmed, dominated by that divine power which lies within the forces of inner disintegration and, above all, within that irresistible yearning which will drive the separated soul on to complete its further, predestined journey as infallibly as the sun causes the mists to rise from the water on which it shines. Death surrenders us completely to God; it makes us pass into God. In return we have to surrender ourselves to it, in love and in the abandon of love, since, when death comes to us, there is nothing further for us to do but let ourselves be entirely dominated and led onwards by God.

Because, Lord, by every innate impulse and through all the hazards of my life I have been driven ceaselessly to search for you and to set you in the heart of the universe of matter, I shall have the joy, when death comes, of closing my eyes amidst the splendour of a universal transparency aglow with fire …

It is as if the fact of bringing together and connecting the two poles, tangible and intangible, external and internal, of the world which bears us onwards had caused everything to burst into flames and set everything free.

[Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe (Harper and Row, 1961), Chapter 4:77-78]

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In her message of condolence to Bill and all of Elton’s family, Allison Pierce made mention of Psalm 139, which is one of the Psalms that is often read as part of the Canadian Anglican Book of Alternative Services‘ Funeral Liturgy. Here is this Psalm, in the translation from the BAS:

Psalm 139
 
Lord, you have searched me out and known me; *
    you know my sitting down and my rising up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
    and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
    but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
 
You press upon me behind and before *
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
    it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
 
Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
    where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
    if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
 
If I take the wings of the morning *
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand will lead me *
    and your right hand hold me fast.
 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, *
    and the light around me turn to night,”
Darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day; *
    darkness and light to you are both alike.

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John 14:2-3, 19-20, 23:

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (Verses 2-3 are read in the BAS Funeral Liturgy.)

Beth Moore comments:

I believe this is what Christ was saying to them: “I am going to leave you so that I can prepare rooms for you where you will one day dwell and indeed make yourself at home where I live in heaven. Until then, I have built a room in each of you where I can make Myself at home with you. This way I am at home with you in Spirit until you are at home with Me in heaven.”

[Beth Moore, The Beloved Disciple (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), p. 174]

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In my visit with Bill Hellyer yesterday, Bill told me that one of his favourite Christian songs is “I Can Only Imagine.” I would like to end this posting on Our Lord’s everlasting Presence with us with a video of this song embedded below, in loving memory of Elton and Len, who are now experiencing the glorious communion of which these reflections, these passages of Holy Scripture, and this song, speak:


1 Corinthians 2:9-10:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the human heart
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
(NKJV – alt.)

1 John 3:2:

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

From → All Posts, Music, Prayers

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