In the Twilight of life an angel comes to take us Home
It may seem too early or premature to talk about the end of life. However, when our deceased loved ones are wheeled into the church, the celebrant greets the entourage, sprinkles the coffin with holy water, saying: “In the waters of baptism (name) died with Christ and rose with him to new life. May he/she now share with him eternal glory. ”Then the pall is placed on the coffin and the entrance procession begins.
There is so much symbolism here that one may wonder why all the attraction to a simple ceremony that isn’t even a sacrament itself. First the pall is almost always white as are the vestments worn by the ministers. White is the resurrection as in Revelation: “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” “My Lord , you are the one who knows,” “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7: 13 - 14). We believe that if we have also washed our souls in the blood of Christ who died for us we too shall be one with him. The symbol of our being united in heaven with out Savior.
The waters of baptism poured upon our body accepting the Holy Spirit and becoming one with Christ is now reiterated upon the casket containing our remains. The two births are now complete as our baptism is the calling of our soul to eternal life. The first birth is the cleansing of original sin, and this moment welcomes the forgiven soul into heaven. This water also reminds us of; “while a mighty wind swept over the waters.” (Gn 1: 2)., the parting of the Red Sea” (Ex 14: 10 ff), and Noah’s abiding in God and building the Ark. Forever more God said he would not destroy man. “Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start, nor will I ever again strike down all living things, as I have done.” Gn 8: 21). His leads us to the Incarnation of his Son and the forgiveness through his Son’s Crucifixion and ultimate Resurrection. All this is the reason for the emphasis on this celebration, not death, but the promise of our victory in our own resurrection into heaven.
Waters of baptism, signs of joy, and everything white are there to lift our spirits to the knowledge of Christ’s ascension to his Father and the saints and angels waiting for the soul of our deceased to enter into his Glory.
Ralph B. Hathaway