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Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Greatest of These is Love

Note: Once a year hospice chaplains are usually charged with developing an Interfaith Service of Remembrance for the families and friends of our patients who have died. In my experience, the fatal flaw in interfaith services is that the seek the "lowest common denominator" which inevitably leads to the kind of bland, boring service that is like unto eating Twinkies and singing Kumbya. This service is not like that. It's a lovely layering of several cultural expressions about faith, hope and love. We conducted this service tonight and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The prayers were led by a variety of staff. The music was led by our Music Therapist who did a few solos along with one of our Chaplains who sang "Portrait of My Love". I post this here mostly to save this service for myself for future reference but also for your consideration and use.

An Interfaith Service of Remembrance
May 10, 2018

Prelude “Breaths” (Sweet Honey in the Rock)    


Opening Prayer and lighting of Candle    

At times our own light goes out
and is rekindled by a spark from
another person. Each of us has
cause to think with deep gratitude
of those who have lit the flame within us.  AMEN.

“Beautiful Life”         (solo)                                 

Reading together                                        

A Prayer of Remembrance             from the Jewish Prayer Book

In the rising of the sun, and in its going down, we remember them..
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
So long as they live, we, too, shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them. 

"Tell your Heart To Beat Again"  (solo)
     On the Death of the Beloved     by John O’Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul's gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

We sing together:     “Blessed Be The Tie That Binds”  (John Fawcett)

1.Blest be the tie that binds                            4. When we are called to part,           
our hearts throughout our love;                      it gives us inward pain;
the fellowship of kindred minds                     but we shall still be joined in heart,
is like to that above                                         and hope to meet again.

2. Before the holy throne                                5. This glorious hope revives 
we pour our ardent prayers;                           our courage by the way;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one            while each in expectation lives
our comforts and our cares                             and waits to see the day.

3. We share our mutual woes,                         6. From sorrow, toil and pain,
our mutual burdens bear,                                and sin, we shall be free;
and often for each other flows                        and perfect love and friendship reign
the sympathizing tear.                                                through all eternity.

A Reading from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13                
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

“Portrait of My Love”          (solo)    

A Reading         They Are with Us Still         By Kathleen McTigue
In the ­struggles we choose for ourselves,
in the ways we move forward in our lives
and bring our world forward with us,

It is right to remember the names of those
who gave us strength in this choice of living.
It is right to name the power of hard lives well-lived.

We share a history with those lives.
We belong to the same motion.

They too were strengthened by what had gone before.
They too were drawn on by the vision of what might come to be.

Those who lived before us,
who ­struggled for justice and suffered injustice before us,
have not melted into the dust,
and have not disappeared.

They are with us still.
The lives they lived hold us steady.

Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves.
Their courage and love evoke our own.
We, the living, carry them with us:
we are their voices, their hands and their hearts.

We take them with us,
and with them choose the deeper path of living.

Images of Our Loved Ones         A special video prepared by our Volunteer Coordinator

We invite you to share a memory of your loved one.

We sing together:                 “Let It Be”                 The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness
she is standing right in front of me
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when he broken hearted people
living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.

For though they may be parted there is
still a chance that they will see.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Yeah.
There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
there is still a light that shines on me,
shine on until tomorrow, let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.

There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
Closing Prayer                                                        

The Sacred Hoop by Black Elk
Then I was standing
on the highest mountain
of them all,

And round about beneath me
was the whole hoop
of the world.

And while I stood there
I saw more than I can tell

And I understood more
than I saw;

for I was seeing
in a sacred manner
the shapes of all things
in the spirit,

and the shape
of all shapes
as they must live
together like one being.

And I saw that the sacred hoop
of my people
was one of many hoops
that made one circle,
wide as daylight and as starlight,

and in the center grew one
mighty flowering tree

to shelter all children
of one mother
and one father.

And I saw that it was holy.

Closing Blessing                                           
My friends, life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make this earthly pilgrimage with us, so be swift to love and make haste to do kindness. And, the blessing of God be upon you and remain with you this day and forever more. AMEN

Postlude: “I’ll Be Seeing You”  (Fain & Kahal)    (solo)

     The entire staff and administration would like to thank you for joining us this evening for this service of remembrance. Please consider stopping by our fountain place a stone in the fountain in memory of your loved one. You are welcome to stay and enjoy some light refreshments and conversations with each other and the staff.


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