I remember a woman once telling me how she kept her sense of balance and priorities in perspective, in light of the very public life she led. She said when she had too many demands on her time, she tried to remember that when she died, it would be her children - and not all of the other people who were constantly drawing close to her – who would be standing there when she was lowered into her grave.
I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it more often when I am in a cemetery – probably because I usually have things to do and words to speak – but I thought about it last Saturday when I was standing at the mausoleum in Shawnee Park Memorial Gardens. Linda and I were there with my brother as his wife was settled into her final resting place. Standing around were her sons and granddaughters, in-laws, nieces and nephews, and a small smattering of friends. As the words were offered up and the granite was fixed into its place, I surveyed the people standing in the light mist and thought how many people she had known in her life, but how I was standing among the folks who loved her the most . . . standing among the folks she loved the most.
And here we are, working our way through these Lenten days.
Soon, Good Friday will come upon us.
The truth is that it passes quickly – often almost without our noticing.
One Sunday, he is alive, and we are waving palms.
A week later, he is alive again, and we are decked out in our Easter finest.
In between, there was the heartbreak.
The crowd that gathered at Jesus’ tomb was smaller than the number who gathered for “Queenie” . . . markedly smaller. Really, it was just the women, and really only a handful of them. Hurriedly that Friday night as the shadows fell, and quickly two days later as the first beams of sun began to light the skies - the whole thirty or thirty-five hours is told in the fewest of verses:
The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid . . . at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.
Of all the people he had known, of all the crowds to whom he had preached, of all the influential ones whose path his had crossed, it was just these couple of women. But, I suppose it was true then too. They were among the select few that had loved him the most . . . and who he had loved the most.
And I tell you this: while I have never thought of it in quite these terms before, I suppose I came home thinking that maybe God is calling me to be at more gravesites. Which is just an off-beat way of saying that maybe God is calling me to embrace the heartache of giving and receiving love more deeply. With more people.
What we recognize and celebrate in cemeteries is the best that has happened within the dash . . . that hyphen between the dates on the monument. And all of us who worship him have known that somehow . . . that this great drama we are living through in these Lenten days is finally a revelation of and a call to love. And when that has happened, there is that one other truth to be spoken: death has no power.
None at all.
None at all.
Blessings and Peace,
These thoughts and reflections come from our Senior Minister, Minister of Music and Board Chair. We hope that they provide both challenge and inspiration for your spiritual life.