Scripture: Psalm 102
Key verse: (11) My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.
Reflection: Who is the oldest person you know? Is there anyone in your family who has lived 100 years? I recently officiated at a memorial service for a church member who died at the age of 102. The next day in worship I served communion to a 96-year-old man who walked forward, a little slowly, dressed in his coat and tie. And then the next day I spoke with a 92-year-old in the church hallway who was here for a meeting about an upcoming church project. Wow!
I believe that faith gives us courage to face reality, including the reality of our aging and our mortality. Over and over again, scripture reminds us that we are human. Humans are mortal. We are born, we live, we grow, and we die. Every one of us dies.
As people who believe in the promise of resurrection, we have hope that this reality isn’t the final word. Death doesn’t have the victory. We age and we die but we are given the gift of new life in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we wither away like grass. Tall people begin to stoop over. Feet shuffle a little slowly. Wrinkles from laughter and from pain etch across our faces. Distant memories flood back and we forget what we ate for lunch (and maybe we forget that we ate lunch at all).
The next verse of the psalm reads, “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations.” We trust in an eternal God who walks with us on the journey of life. The evening shadows grow long, but God’s light shines bright. We wither but God is strong and faithful always. Perhaps that faith and trust is what has sustained the 92, 96 and 102-year-old saints of the church!
Prayer: Help us to live as those who are prepared to die. And when our days here are ended, enable us to die as those who go forth to live. So that living or dying, our life may be yours. Amen.
(Prayer adapted from the PCUSA Book of Common Worship and I use it in every funeral.)
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].