Be honest with yourself,
That title made you feel a little uneasy. It's not exactly a title that you were expecting in this week's "From the Pastor." Well, just hold on, I'll get there, I promise.
This last Saturday, I had the honor of walking with a family through a difficult time as they laid their father to rest next to their mother in the Llano City Cemetery. It was a small family from out of town who wanted a Methodist pastor to lead a small graveside funeral service. So, being the Methodist pastor in town, I was given the opportunity to minister to a family in their time of grief.
As per my usual, I arrived at the Cemetery about 15 minutes early in order to collect my thoughts and prepare myself to bring the peace of Christ into the situation. As a pastor, it can be real easy to just walk in to a situation and think you have all the answers, but you and I both know that is not the case. It is important to center ourselves and to focus on what we are really there for, to represent the church and to lead people in worship of the risen Christ; to point everyone to him and preach the Good News.
As I was walking from my truck to the graveside, it hit me: The Cemetery is so peaceful.
I thought about all the people who have gone before us, those who had lived full lives, and even those like my sister who is buried there, who didn't, but are now fully alive in Christ Jesus. I thought about my salvation and how one day, while my body may be buried in a place like that, my soul will be with Christ and I will be fully known and will know Jesus fully, and that peace just washed over me.
During the service I read these words:
There was a Saturday, much like this one, over 2000 years ago, where 11 of Jesus disciples were sitting in the upper room, wondering if they were next. They had seen all the events of the days leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, and I can only imagine the questions that were being asked; namely, why did he have to die?
When we come into contact with death, it makes us feel uneasy. It makes us feel pain and sorrow. But I am reminded of Psalm 30: 5 which says, 'For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.'"
I think it is real easy sometimes for us to forget why Jesus had to come in the first place. As humans, we have to come to understand that we are broken; we are sinners in need of God's grace, but that when we receive that grace, and allow Jesus into our heart, we no longer have to fear death, or the cemetery. In fact, it can become quite a peaceful place. It can become a place that is just another stop on this journey called life as we pass from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant.
Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans that there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of God. NOTHING.
So, let us life as people who are prepared to die, but also people who are fully alive in Christ!
Let us pray,
God of all creation, you are good and your love endures forever. Help us to live as people to die, but people who are also fully alive in Christ. Give us peace, O Lord, and help us to be a light shining in the darkness. Help us to be people who, in the midst of death, see eternal life and to be people who proclaim the Good news that Jesus died for us to make us whole.
We ask all these things in the strong name of Jesus, Our Lord,
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 37-39)