“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
This ancient prayer from the Psalms reminds us of the limited span of our life – and in that knowledge asks that we respond with wisdom. By reflection on our own mortality and death, we come to see in each day the opportunity to respond to God, making the most of each moment while knowing that beyond this life, the Gospels and the Creeds teach us to expect a life that is more than we can ask or imagine.
Reflection on our own mortality and death can also spur us to take care of the details and responsibilities of our life, to spare our families and friends from making decisions or second guessing our own desires. This form allows you to express your preferences among the options provided in the Prayer Book services. This will be a helpful guide to family, clergy and parish staff when the time comes to actually prepare a service that both expresses the Church’s faith and reflects your life and experience.
There are several other aspects of preparation that need to be mentioned. Obviously a will provides you with the opportunity to use wealth and possessions to accomplish some good. Christian faith reminds us regularly that our possession of any object is only temporary, that we hold whatever we possess as stewards of God’s gifts. I would urge you to use your will to provide for those who are dependent on you and to strengthen and expand the Church’s ministry and other institutions or charities that are important to you. I, or a member of the Finance Team, would be happy to discuss any bequests or gifts you plan on making to St. John’s at any time. A healthy parish endowment will insure the on-going ministry of the parish in the years ahead and would also allow us to use the income to witness to the Gospel by meeting human needs around us.
Along with a will, many people choose to provide a living will that deals with medical questions before they arise. Others appoint someone with medical power of attorney, enabling that person to make decisions on their behalf. To do so relieves family and close friends of a great burden. For those without an obvious next of kin, or where family is not available to fill this role, such a plan is essential.
As you use this form to express your preferences in terms of the liturgical rites that mark your passage from this mortal life to life eternal, I urge you to reflect on other acts of preparation you might need to make. In the Great Litany, we pray that we may be delivered from dying “suddenly and un-prepared”. The question of sudden may not be in our hands, but through our prayers, attention to our spiritual lives, and by attending to our responsibilities, we can stand prepared. If I can be of any help with any of the questions that such reflection and work generate, please do not hesitate to call.