Two friends of mine have died and their funerals will take place in the next few days. “Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”
What do we mean when we pray that those who die “rest in peace?”
The Book of Genesis says that God “rested” on the seventh day after completing the work of creation. God’s rest was a time of delight in what was done, and so we wish that those who die experience delight for the life they led on earth and the new life they share with God. The Letter to the Hebrews, read in the last weeks of January, also speaks of the rest of delight that those who go before us share with Jesus, our High Priest.
That doesn’t mean they will forget those they leave behind or the world they no longer live in. When Jesus rose from the dead he entered into his rest, but his work was not done on earth. God’s Kingdom must still come. As our High Priest, who shared our human life and its weakness and death, he continues to intercedes for us on earth. He is a compassionate and loving High Priest.
Like Jesus, those whom God calls into his rest still love this world and those still journeying here. They don’t forget us. Resting in God, they’re restless till God’s kingdom come. Given clearer sight as they commune with God, they accompany us on our way. They’re in blessed communion with us, a communion of saints.