Ten minutes before the memorial service began today, someone came over and said, “We’re not going to fit.”
We had everything set up and ready to go in our chapel, which seats about fifth comfortably. It was obvious we were going to exceed that. “Ok,” I said, “Everyone grab something.” Every able pair of hands grabbed flower arrangements, candles, pictures, the urn, a TV and computer for the slide show, plus my bible. The organist quickly ended the piece she was on and we were on our way to the main sanctuary. With grace and aplomb, we got everything set and ready to go just a few minutes after our scheduled start time.
When someone asks, “So how did the funeral go?” it’s hard to give an objective answer. After all, it is a funeral. But it went well, with a wide variety of people there to support and encourage the bereaved family, great Advent songs, and courageous thoughts shared by family members.
I almost always keep my composure, but today was an exception. Nine minutes and 45 seconds into my ten minute message, I mentioned a few images of the promised new heavens and new earth, and said,
If God has something like that in store for us, we can confidently commend our dear ones into his care. And he will give us the faith to get there ourselves.
But then for a few seconds, which seemed like a whole minute, I paused as emotion swelled up in my throat and moisture began to cloud my vision. I had to take a few deep breaths before continuing,
Death is wrong. It’s not the end of the trail. Jesus was right. Nothing is going to separate us from his love.
It’s not like I was hearing those words for the first time. I wrote them. But in that moment, I realized that there would be times that I would have to commend those I love into his care, and I would have to hold on tightly to his promises. For a few seconds, it was like I was speaking to myself. Or maybe even more accurately, God was speaking to me.
That’s pretty good motivation to preach the word. You get to hear it, too!