Death is rearing its ugly head. Over the course of the day I will have presided at a funeral and talked with three other families about three different funeral arrangements.
And I will be exhausted. Death has a way of sucking the life out of people.
In seminary, I took a preaching class on funerals and weddings. We covered funerals first. Each of the students got to pick the circumstances and then preach a funeral sermon. There were 27. We listened to them all in one day. That’s a lot of funeral sermons.
And we were overachievers too. Of the 27, eight were suicide sermons, one mass shooting, and a bunch other odd funerals. There were a few “normal” funerals too. They were actually a pleasant reprieve from the heaviness of us overachievers that wanted to challenge ourselves.
Listening to 27 funerals was a challenge. By the end of the day, we were exhausted and drained. But at the same time, we heard the promise of God over and over again. It was undeniable.
I feel that at the end of the day today, the same will be true. Death sucks, but it is not the end of the story. It is not the end of our story. It is the time in which we get to hear about God’s promises for us. We get to hear the reality of death in our midst and the hoped for promise of resurrection.
These messages are important. We shouldn’t ignore death or pretend that death hasn’t struck. Instead, we need to acknowledge that death is in our presence. But death doesn’t have the final say. Jesus made sure of that. And that means that there is more to this day than just sadness. We mourn because the person we cared for and love is no longer alive and walking with us daily. But we hope for a promised future in which death will be no more. A future when pain will be more. A future where God has transformed and renewed not just us, but all of creation, and come down out of heaven to dwell with us forevermore.
When I conduct funerals, I love to use the passage from Revelation 21 that speaks to this. It is one of the most hopeful passages of Scripture. It paints a picture of what eternal life will be about – timelessness with the full presence of God. And God doing what God has always done – God coming to creation yet again. We don’t escape creation. We are transformed and renewed with creation and dwell with God forever.
Death sucks, but the promise of resurrection gives us hope. That doesn’t take away the pain and mourning. Death means there is separation between loved one. But in resurrection we look forward to a time when we will be reunited. Thank God for this.