Mandela, Memorials, Celebrations and Funerals…for what purpose?

Raising of Lazarus. Jesus calls out Lazarus fr...

Raising of Lazarus. Jesus calls out Lazarus from his tomb. Mary and Martha accompany Jesus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional THought of the Day:

21  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” 23  Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24  “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” 25  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” 27  “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”  John 11:21-27 (NLT) 

Have you ever said something that was far more accurate than you could ever expect?

In the gospel, Martha responds to Jesus, testifying to why she believe her brother is alive.  She says this even as she knows his body, broken and empty, lies cold behind he stone. She got the answer right!  I have believed you are the Messiah… that makes everything  – including seeing her brother again, not just a nice thought – but an expectation.  Because of Him!

I have been thinkning about this a lot in the last days, since Mandela’s memorial service, and the uproars that it caused. People, newspeople and those who followed their stories missed the reason for a memorial service, and later for the funeral, which was far more private. It seems like a constant theme in the months that have passed, as many people I know have lost family, dads, and granddads.  The grief is a bit overwhelming, in some ways more personal this year, more overwhelming, even before my own dad’s suffering was replaced with the joy of being in the Father in Heaven’s presence.

So why do funerals exist?  Are they to celebrate the accomplishments of a person’s life?  Are they there to give voice to the grief the family and close friends know?  Are they times for us to put life in perspective, realizing that all life has a termination point? Are they times for us to meet up with old friends and family, in a place where the disagreements and distance seem.. well minute?  Is there time for laughter and joy amidst the tears?  If so, is it even appropriate? So many questions, and as a veteran pastor, each of the questions will find their answers differently, because they are not the primary issue of the memorial service, the celebration of life, the funeral.

THe prupose is something different.  It is something deeper, something more challenging to consider.

It is about celebrating the relationship between God and the person who has passed away.  About realizing that God has fulfilled the promises to that man or woman personally. That as God claimed them as His, as God sustained them, blessed them, disciplined them, exalted them, love them, that their life is a testimony to God’s love and mercy.  THat we can entrust this person we cared about, whom we loved, into the hands of God.   Because of that we know as King David said of His son, there will be a day when we can go to him.

It doesn’t matter whether it is Mandela, or a dear friend.  Those God has claimed are His,stating His claim at the cross, when Jesus died. He is faithful, even when we struggle to be.

Such is God’s love for us… a love that is shown in life and death. A love that needs to be revealed, and celebrated, and known.

For in realizing that love, we also realize His comfort and His peace, even as our eyes resemble waterfalls…

ALl these labels for these events, the ceremonises should teach us of God’s love… and I pray we hear it, see it revealed, and know it in our hearts..AMEN

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on December 14, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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