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
Devotional THought of the Day:
This morning I will be doing a funeral, helping a daughter grieve, a daughter whose mom passed away10 months ago, whose day passed away last week.
When I met him, he talked a little about the history he had at our church, the families and friends he remembered, who he served by. He also talked a lot about the things he collected over the years, the precious stamps and coins, the meeting with others who collected, the teaching of young collectors. Our discussions brought to mind a favored passage:
45 ‘Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; 46 when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.Matthew 13:45-46 (NJB)
That is a dedicated Collector, One willing to give up everything for that which is His prized possession.
So often I have heard that passage talk about those who seek for God – who seek for righteousness, who long to set things…right.
If you look carefully though, it is not so – the Kingdom of God is like the merchant – this is describing the work of the Father, and His work in coming to redeem (to purchase back) the pearl. They are the one’s seeking to complete their collection, even as the Shepherd will look for the lost sheep, or the woman her lost coin, or the Father, his prodigal son.
God is out – collecting – He has sent His agents into the world (us – His people) to continue to search for the collection. And He gave up everything- to purchase for Himself a people. He gave up His only beloved Son.
It is in days like this, that our trust in God is challenged a bit – in days where the bills are tight, in days where we don’t grasp everything going on.. it is then we need to remember that He seeks us, He comes to us, He pays the price for us, He loves us…..
And His goal is to have us…with Him.
As we draw near to a close in this advent season…may we always rejoice in His seeking us.