A grave opportunity

Ruth 3:1-7
Yesterday, I led my first funeral on All Saints Day. It was a fitting celebration. I’m sure I’ve written about my view on this great holy day of the church. If we’re ranking holidays, I put it above Christmas, right after Easter. Of course, that’s assuming we’re merging the significance of All Saints and All Souls Day.

If so, it’s more than a remembrance. Although that is meaningful. It’s a celebration of our life together. We’ve all relied on saints of God to nurture and guide us in life and in faith.

All Saints is also a conviction of our faith. We do not live in fear because we know the resurrection of Jesus has swallowed up death forever (1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8). As such, we can live in the hope God offers and in the way of Christ we read of in scripture.

All Saints is also a calling of sorts. As we look back at the faithful who have died and now live in glory, we also thank God for the church that will follow us.

One of the prayers of our funeral service asks God to help us see the significance of our care for one another. We show compassion as someone mourns the passing of someone they love. That’s an easy call to recognize. But we also carry one another in life. We bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). And we encourage and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

At yesterday’s funeral, I waited as workers lowered the casket into the grave. That’s something I’ve done for a long time. After seeing it done so many times, I think I could do the task myself. Of course, I don’t. My job is to stand there. As I did, someone from the funeral home approached me. He said, “I’ve never seen anyone stay this long. Normally, when the preacher finishes the service, they’re gone.”

“Do you normally stay,” he asked me. I could’ve just said, “Yes.” But I used it as an opportunity to tell him why I think so much of All Saints Day and the connection we share as God’s church. As I stand and watch every coffin lowered, I have the opportunity then to tell a family that the church stayed with their loved one to the very end.

Their mom or dad, grandfather or grandmother, child or Sunday School teacher lived a blessed life. They gave of themselves for our well-being. They shared their love with us. In many cases, they served the church faithfully. The church can stand around for a few more minutes to honor their life.

That’s what we do as God’s church. We care for one another in ways others may not know how to. We look for ways we can better the lives of our church family. After all, these are the saints God gifted our lives with.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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