“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself.
Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.” Wisdom 3:1-5, 9.
Like many Americans I have spent the last several days watching memorials to Senator John McCain. In particular, I watched the service at the National Cathedral all Saturday morning. I became awed with that Cathedral almost thirty years ago when our friends Joanne and Allan Meadors introduced us to it through the National Cathedral Association, and we were hooked. For twenty years we visited it at least twice a year, often staying at the College of Preachers on its grounds. I am still reeling from this memorable service on Saturday morning at such a familiar sacred space.
Former Senator Kelly Ayotte read these favorite words from holy scripture recommended for the burial office from the Book of Wisdom.
What a tribute that a man can so inspire us so much in his death by how he lived and even how he planned his burial service. I can barely talk about it, much less write about it. I like most of you stayed in tears at most of Meghan McCain’s tribute to her father. This is a real sign of greatness when a man so involved in politics can be so cared for and loved by his children.
The entire service was inspiring, a remembrance of an icon of someone who made mistakes and owned up to them, who dared to cross the aisle at the senate to listen to others of another party, who learned to speak his own truth and face the consequences. Many believe that he was molded by his five years of captivity. Most of us cannot imagine what that was like. McCain is a role model for us of someone who turned his trials into gold.
I see many lives in captivity, not the way McCain was, but caught in the captivity of an addiction. I also see daily ordinary men and women who have learned from and come out of that life into what Christians would call a life of resurrection, a new life beyond anything they dreamed. Many who knew them in the past can no longer recognize them physically, mentally, or spiritually.
John McCain’s service was a service of resurrection, a reminder for all of us that there is another way to live and we can begin that journey before death.