Psalm 116:1–2, 12–19 (NRSV)
Verse 1I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Verse 2Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
Verse 12What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?
Verse 13I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,
Verse 14I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
Verse 15Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.
Verse 16O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds.
Verse 17I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord.
Verse 18I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
Verse 19in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
On a Tuesday morning we got the call we knew was coming. Mom was in her last hours. Sally and I drove as quickly as we could to Tacoma, Washington, and the group home where she was living. The sisters and their families had gathered there to keep watch. Mom was unresponsive as we talked in hushed tones around her bed.
Around noon as her breathing slowed, I led the family in the Commendation of the Dying. We didn’t know if mom was “with” us or not. But the service was a comfort and marked an ending. When we reached the Lord’s Prayer, as we prayed together, Mom joined in the second half of the prayer. Those were to be her last words. She died the next day.
Mom’s praying that ancient prayer with us was a benediction on a life well-lived. She remembered and shared her “memory” with us. Now, every time I pray the prayer, I remember mom’s whispery voice echoing in my ear—”forever and ever. Amen.”
Loving, gracious God, hold us and those we love during the hard times of life. Help us to face the end with confidence and hope. In Jesus’ name. Amen.