In Life and In Death We Belong to God
One of the most humbling, life giving, and difficult parts of being a pastor is walking along side families as they face death head on and grieve the loss of someone they love dearly. Honestly, “someone they love dearly” doesn’t even begin to capture the love and deep intimate connection, the life changing impact that they had in the lives of those who gather to celebrate them. Words just aren’t enough.
This past Friday I was blessed and deeply grieved to attend the funeral of a high school friend. We had gone to church together, served along side each other on mission trips, laughed and cried. I was deeply moved by the words of her pastor as he opened the worship service. He said something to the effect of “We are here because the world tells us that death has put a period at the end of the sentence that was her life, but we are here because we know that God has replaced that period with a comma.” There is more to life then death, more to come than the grave. As Christians, even through our tears and heart break, we proclaim with the gospel writers that this isn’t the end, that God promises life eternal.
Today I gathered with an amazing family to plan the memorial service of a man that has inspired me and brought joy to my life. Over the past few months he has demonstrated in ways beyond words that he knows life to be a gift. He has faced a difficult prognosis with grace and optimism. He entered his last week with peace and acceptance of this next step. He teased his wife and me as we cried together, he joked about hosting holiday events, and helped to plan his own service. He did not welcome death, he was sad, but he was not overcome.
Yet, we grieve, our tears are real, and our hearts ache. So we gather. We gather to remember a person who touched our lives deeply. We gather to surround family and friends in support and love. We gather to say to the world that this is not the end, that what is to come far exceed our ability to even imagine. We gather to live in our belief that in life and in death we belong to God.
My great hope for each of us this week is that we will take time to reflect on the lives of those who have passed before us that have left a lasting and eternal mark on our souls, that we will cherish the days we have on this earth and the people that God fills them with, and that we will support each other along the journey that is life.