Watching the days of news coverage following the death of George HW Bush (41st President of the USA) has me asking for the Anglican Church’s view on what happens upon the death of a faithful member.

Many times during the past few days I have been moved by the words of his loved ones who speak of him at last reunited with his beloved wife Barbara and daughter Robin who preceded him in death.

Does the Anglican Church teach that dead loved ones are waiting in heaven to greet family members upon the moment of their death?

If so what is the biblical basis for this belief?

In the 'before the funeral' section of 'Ministry at the Time of Death' on the Church of England's website, there is the following paragraph within a prayer which is advised to be prayed with relatives at home, prior to attending the funeral :

May we then go forward eagerly to meet our redeemer and, after our life on earth, be reunited with all our brothers and sisters in that place where every tear is wiped away and all things are made new; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

It is noticeable that the re-uniting is not based on natural, familial relationships but is based on a re-uniting with 'brothers and sisters' in the faith.

This appears to me to be in accord with scripture, both with those texts which deal with regeneration - the new birth of repentance and faith - and with those texts which warn of the ultimate state of the unrepentant and unbelieving after decease.

After cataloguing the faith of many of old who have endured in faithfulness and are now with the Lord, the writer to the Hebrews exhorts :

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us ...

Hebrews 12:1 KJV 1769

... encouraging those still in the body that they are already 'compassed about' by those of whom he had spoken in the previous chapter.

They are almost in the arms of those who await in heaven, it would seem.

This is clearly shown in the Third Homily on the Fear of Death of the Church of England Homilies :

The faythfull Christian man which considereth all these miseries, perils, and incommodities (whereunto he is subiect so long as he heere liueth vpon earth) and on the other part considereth that blessed and comfortable state of the heauenly life to come, and the sweet condition of them that depart in the Lord, how they are deliuered from the continuall encumbrances of their mortall and sinnefull body, from all the malice, crafts, and deceits of this world, from all the assaults of their Ghostly enemy the Diuell, to liue in peace, rest, and endlesse quietnesse, to liue in the fellowship of innumerable Angels, and with the congregation of perfect iust men, as Patriarches, Prophets, Martyrs, and Confessours, and finally vnto the presence of Almighty GOD, and our Sauiour Iesus Christ.

As Jesus clearly teaches, also, recorded by Luke :

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

Luke 16:22 KJV 1769

This, also, is attested in the Third Homily on the Fear of Death :

Of Abraham's bosome, Christs wordes bee so plaine, that a Christian man needeth no more proofe of it. Now then, if this were the state of the holy Fathers and righteous men, before the comming of our Sauiour, and before hee was glorified: how much more then ought all we to haue a stedfast faith, and a sure hope of this blessed state & condition, after our death? seeing that our Sauiour now hath performed the whole worke of our redemption, and is gloriously ascended into heauen, to prepare our dwelling places with him, and said vnto his Father, Father, I will that where I am, my seruants shall bee with mee (John 17.24).

However, Jesus tells us most firmly :

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3: 5-7 KJV 1769

and therefore the prayer of the Church of England is quite correct, biblically, to focus on relationships within Christ, rather than the natural family.

This is made clear in the Church of England Homilies, yet again, this time in the Homily on Repentance - (the Third Part) :

Whereas if we will repent, and bee earnestly sorry for our sinne, and with a full purpose and amendment of life flee vnto the mercy of our GOD, and taking sure hold thereupon through fayth in our Sauiour Iesus Christ doe bring foorth fruits worthy of repentance: hee will not onely powre his manifold blessings vpon vs heere in this world, but also at the last, after the painefull trauels of this life, reward vs with the inheritance of his children, which is the kingdome of heauen, purchased vnto vs with the death of his sonne Iesu Christ our Lord, to whom with the Father and the holy Ghost, be all praise, glory, and honour, world without end. Amen.

And the Apostle John faithfully warns ...

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Revelation 21:8 KJV 1769.

Or, in the words of the Homily on Declining from God - the Second Part

let vs make no tarrying to turne vnto the Lord: let vs not put off from day to day, for suddainly shall his wrath come, and in time of vengeance hee will destroy the wicked. Let vs therefore turne betimes, and when wee turne let vs pray to GOD, as Ose teacheth, saying, Forgiue all our sinnes, receiue vs gratiously (Hosea 14.2)

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Article 40 of the 42 Articles (the precursor list to the 39 Articles), quoted by Rev Beckmann states:

40 The soulles of them that departe this life doe neither die with the bodies, nor slepe idlie.

Thei which saie that the soulles of suche as departe hens doe sleepe, being without al sence, fealing, or perceiving, until the daie of judgement, or affirme that the soulles die with the bodies, and at the laste daie shal be raised up with the same, doe utterlie dissent from the right beliefe declared to us in holie Scripture.

  • @curiousdannii I can only find the traditional 39 articles, but instead, I spent a profitable time among the Homilies. All done and edited. – Nigel J 2 days ago
  • I don't know about all the others, but article 40 is quotes here: revbeckmann.com/273-2 – curiousdannii 2 days ago
  • @curiousdannii Excellent find. I have edited that in as well. – Nigel J 2 days ago

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