I was hesitant, because technically (BCP rubrics) state that I must do a funeral with a closed casket --and I know the wake here is always done with an open casket --but his casket will be closed. He drowned. And was not found for many days....
And I am hesitant still, having been deeply offended on more than one occasion at the missionary techniques and attitudes and belief systems of certain Mormons... in my own living room. (Deeply offended is putting it nicely... what they said about women in general and me as a woman and my dead babies such that I would leave the room, leave them with my beloved who is so much better at dealing with those who knock on the door wanting to talk about God.)
And so, in my prayers today, I pray for the family and relatives, and the repose of his soul. And I pray for guidance through the morass of inter-faith funeral rites, knowing my care and concern of the family comes before any thing else... and, yes, I say inter-faith because Mormons are not Trinitarians, and are not, therefore, Christians in any Traditional sense.... --they do not hold the fundamentals such as Incarnation and Resurrection in any Traditional sense... nor even Baptism. And compound that with a family with Episcopalian roots, tethered with Lakota spirituality and ceremonies, and Mormonism held in hand.... It's going to be an interesting funeral.
And, that got me thinking about where I am --in all of this.... When D and Joel and Deacon and I visited the church where Deacon was brought up --up on Standing Rock Reservation, Deacon was talking about how the vestibule was used to hold the coffin during the wake, because an open coffin would not be brought in to the church.... And I remembered how I used to do that too --when requested, putting the open coffin in the narthex (front hall) of the church, and when it came time, closing the coffin and processing in with it for the funeral. I would not allow an open coffin in the sanctuary in front of the altar....
And now --not even sure how it happened that I didn't even think of it --now, it seems perfectly natural to place the open coffin right in front of the altar for the overnight wake... Joel and I were talking about it --I said, I don't know, but it seems right and good --it's the final offering.... And Joel said, yeah, I know... and it's like God says, oh, there you are --oh-huhn... can't even repent now can you... here, you are mine, and always have been... I've taken care of it.... And we can let bodies lay around in parish halls, funeral homes, capitol rotundas in governmental buildings --and it is only God who can breathe the new and unexpected life in to the bag of bones....
Yeah. The final and perfect offering.... In front of the altar. And I wonder how we made up not putting an open coffin before the altar.... Where did that come from...? --was it the idea of not polluting a sacred space? --well, there is nothing quite like a corpse to put us in mind of God... it is a perfect offering... there is nothing we can do....
At prayer this morning (Romans 15:1-13)
We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name”;
and again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him”;
and again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yeah... Thank you Paul. I do not have to be 'right' --only faithful, and welcome all as my long-lost sisters and brothers, and be a servant to all in order that 'outsiders' (read Gentile) might also glorify God.... Because in God, there are no 'outsiders.' And that is my hope... my great hope.
For me, easy to think it, easy to say it... we'll see tonight and tomorrow how easy it will be to do it...
No outsiders. Amen.