“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” -- Jeremiah 29:11
Unlike my mother, who couldn’t see her long, slow slide into dementia, my father experienced it with the urgency of a storm brewing over the Nebraska prairie. Every time we spoke he transmitted another piece of information to me, grasping for the clarity of his previously dependable, engineering mind.
“Don’t forget to cancel the insurance on the truck. Be sure you get a refund from the oxygen company; they charged me for a service I never used. Remember to check the freezer for important papers before you haul it to the dump. Make an appointment with the attorney, I forgot one of the grandchildren in my will,” he said.
I could feel his sense of urgency to the end, until that moment when he had said and done all he could say and do. Finally, all that remained was to remind me of what I already knew. “I love you,” he said. And it was sufficient.
Jesus tries every which way to prepare his followers for life after he’s gone. He tells them stories about the vine and the branches, about seeds that have to die before they can flourish. He tells them in advance that as he is about to suffer, and that too will suffer. For the same people who wanted to silence him will want to silence them.
After Jesus reminded his followers of all they had seen, and heard, and learned from their time together, there came that time when there was nothing left to say except that he loved them and wanted them to love one another. He promised to send God’s Spirit to comfort them, so that they would not be as orphans. And Jesus gifted them with God’s peace that earth cannot destroy.
God promises us a hopeful future. Even when dementia steals our memory and we forget God, God never forgets us. Whether we live or whether we die, we belong to Christ, the Lord of Life.
Prayer: As the days grow long and the way more difficult, thank you for loving us to the end. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland