It is not given to us to be as close to those we love as God is. We are always a little separate from one another, always something of a mystery. That is the wonder of loving someone else – that you never know them through and through. Only God knows each of us in the blood and the bone and the heartbeat, in the millions of passing thoughts which make up each individual life, the great multitude of actions small and large – brushing teeth, or running a marathon, or bearing a child – which become someone’s personal history. We are allowed to see some of them, and we celebrate what we know and what we never quite understood, both together, when we give thanks for the people we love and now see no longer….

But in God’s sight every moment and every thought of every person’s life is so soaked through with the light of God’s own seeing that it simply is. Nothing is lost, or hidden, or forgotten. Where God is, there is no room for the darkness of death, because in him is no darkness at all. In God the dead live; in the bed of the grave the light of life springs upwards, though we cannot yet see it. The great cloud of witnesses are shot through with light perpetual.

Our seeing is only partial. Saint Paul said that, ‘we see in part’, and he compared to it a reflection in a dark room: ‘through a glass, darkly’. ‘But,’ he says, ‘one day I shall see face to face: I shall know, even as I shall be fully known.’ Those we name today know more than we do now, and see further than we can; but we are joined with them through love, which lights up the darkness like a candle flame and springs out of bare ground like new shoots in spring. So tonight we express our love through candle flames and in the sprigs of rosemary, the herb of memory, and we name those we love and cannot see, trusting that in God’s sight their lives and selves are full of unimaginable and everlasting light, and that one day, by the grace of God, we shall be like them.

Sermon for All Souls’ Day, by Jessica Martin. My beloved father-in-law was buried on All Souls’ Day, and in light of that I can’t tell you how much these words mean to me.