When I’m being a pastoral presence to someone close to death, there’s a prayer that I always say: “Depart, Christian soul, in the name of the Father who created you, in the name of the Son who redeemed you, and in the name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.”
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of all of God’s creation being woven into a single garment that is a reflection of his handiwork. Each of us and everything in creation, both seen and unseen, is a thread; and we are all woven together in our uniqueness and in our commonality, creating this single garment of God’s creation. No one single thread can be all that God intends unless every thread is all that it can be. You see, all of creation depends on all of creation.
Over time the garment becomes worn, weak, and in need of repair. If we are not paying attention, it falls apart. I need to think that God would never let that happen. In spite of our best efforts to destroy ourselves and creation, we are still here and proof that God loves us even though.
Wait, how does the Son play into the scheme of things? Think of the Son, the redeemer, as the garment’s “care label.” God didn’t just send us on our way without instruction. He offered us his Son to teach us how to care for each other and to remind us that we, yes, you and me, are the caretakers for all of creation and are responsible for returning the garment of God’s handiwork if not untarnished, unblemished, then at the least in the best shape possible.
We live in a disposable world. Care labels don’t mean a thing when it’s easier to cast aside, ignore, throw out what no longer pleases, no longer shines, no longer matters, or simply what has lost its usefulness. How easy it is to forget that as the threads wear and unravel, the garment weakens and falls apart. Is there hope, you ask?
Read the care instructions! But wait…who’s that trying to get our attention? Oh, it’s the Holy Spirit, the sustainer, reminding us that if we just follow the instructions on the care label, we’ll get to be a part of God’s promise and the Spirit will sustain us; but we must make the effort and do the work.
Imagine when God says “times up – ready or not here I come.” Imagine the Son and the Spirit returning to the Father his perfect garment – the reflection of all creation since the beginning. Imagine them wrapping it around God’s shoulders and enfolding themselves within its folds – all becoming one. Imagine yourself a thread enfolded into that oneness with the creator, redeemer, and sustainer for eternity. That’s God’s promise for us, and its fulfillment is as easy as reading and following the care instructions.