“Shall We Gather at the River”

“Shall We Gather at the River”

A common image of death in the Bible, literature and music—including bluegrass gospel music—is crossing the river to the other side. The night of my wife, Lynne’s, death she fell into her final sleep with a CD playing “Let Us Cross Over the River and Rest in the Shade of the Trees.” It was only natural that we also sang today’s familiar hymn at her memorial.

The hymn reminds us of two things. First, we gather at the shore of the river where others have already gone. We all have loved ones, friends or colleagues who have departed and crossed over to the other side. There are also times when we become aware that we are not that far from our departed loved ones—they are just across the river. Second, we are reminded that someday we will also cross that river; our pilgrimage will cease. The hymn reminds us that it is a beautiful river, because it flows by the throne of God!

Whether we are on this side of the river or on the other side, we are all in the arms and presence of God, celebrating Jesus’ triumph over death. It is all we need.

Dear loving and merciful God, as we stand on this side of the river, we remember those who have crossed over to the other side. When our time shall come, welcome us as you have welcomed those who have already crossed. We are all in your arms of comfort, hope and strength. Amen.

“Let Us Hold Fast” is a publication of Luther Seminary.2481 Como Ave. | St. Paul, MN 55108, 651-641-3456 | 888-358-8437 www.luthersem.edu