La Vida Nueva

Every Sunday we sing:

            We remember how you loved us, to your death

            And still we celebrate for you are with us here.

            And we believe that we will see you, when you come,

            In your glory Lord, we remember, we celebrate, we believe.

Every Sunday we come together, all of us—every single one of us—part of the family of God.  To our family table we bring the pain and joy, the sadness and despair, the gaity, the laughter, the tears and the anger that are all part of life.  To that table we bring both the chaos and the steadiness that mark our lives.  The times when we’re bursting with hope and joy and a clear sense of what life will be like tomorrow.  And the times when we don’t know how we will make it through another day.

This Sunday we come together not only as a worshipping community but also as a people joining with Fe, J.B. and Albert in their grief.  Death has pulled up a chair and sat down at their family table.  Fe, J.B. and Albert, to you we say, “Los acompanamos en sus sentimientos.”  “We feel your sorrows, we share our condolences.”

Death has a way of pulling a thread in the cloth of life.  What was is no more and what is left can be confusing, frightening and filled with uncertainty.  It can feel like you’re living inside a big question mark.  We have all been there.  We have all been in that place of chaos and confusion.  We have all lived through times when things just fall apart.

The poet of Lamentations writes of her experience of chaos and confusion.  Her city besieged and then conquered, her leaders taken captive, her neighbors and friends dead from starvation and disease.  Her life marked by despair.  She writes,

“My soul continually thinks of it

and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning….”

Today we give Benny into the arms of God.  In a way we are giving ourselves and one another into God’s arms as well.  God whose mercies are new every morning, God who is always at work bringing La Vida Nueva—new life—to those, like Benny, who have departed this life and to those of us still here.  New life in the midst of our sadness and despair.  New life in the midst of our anger and confusion.  New life in the midst of our hurts and disappointments.

When my mother died, a friend wrote, “Keep your eyes open for signs of new life.”  It was one of the wisest things anyone said.  So that’s just what I did.  I kept my eyes and my heart open for signs of new life.  Not long thereafter, a bird—I think it was a robin—built a nest in the magnolia tree just off our deck.  It wasn’t long before we heard new peeps.  Signs of new life.  Signs of hope amidst despair.

La Vida Nueva—that is the Gospel promise, that is the hope that springs from the Cross and the empty tomb. La Vida Nueva for Benny, for Fe, for J. B. and Albert and for all of us.  La Vida Nueva—there’s a bittersweet quality to it for in its very newness is a reminder of la vida alta—the old life, the life that has been lost.  And yet the God who invites us into new life is the God whose mercies are new every morning, the God who comes and dwells among us, the God who wipes every tear from our eyes.  And so we sing,

           We remember how you loved us, to your death

            And still we celebrate for you are with us here.

            And we believe that we will see you, when you come,

            In your glory Lord, we remember, we celebrate, we believe.

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