Wednesday, August 27, 2014
In my long years in the ministry I have conducted many funeral services, a good number of which have been especially painful for me because they involved some very dear members of our church family. I rejoice in the knowledge that all of them are in Heaven today and am grateful for the treasured great memories they left behind, but miss them profoundly nonetheless. When I think back at the contributions they made to our church, and I’m not necessarily referring to money, I remember the particular character traits I mostly miss about them. Since I’m not a name dropper, I’ll just list some of the outstanding attributes they possessed collectively, and what mostly comes to mind when I think of them individually. Here are just a few: Loyalty, tenacity, protective, dependability, faithfulness, punctuality, humility, initiative, generosity, joyfulness, playfulness, gentleness, kindness, and thoughtfulness. I bet some of you who are reading this blog today will easily recognize that I am talking about your mom, dad, or some other loved one. Perhaps you’ll also understand just how much our church has lost and why we miss them like we do.
To add to the pain these absences have caused me and other members of our church family is the fact that many of the children and family members of our departed brethren, stopped coming to church when their loved ones left us. I realize there are many other churches in town and am aware that they don’t owe us anything, but it would have been very comforting to me to still have them with us here in church. It would have made me believe that a little bit of Sister or Brother so and so is still here with us. I don’t generally tell them, but when I see or talk to certain people in church, I often visualize their departed mom, dad, or spouse. And though I mostly succeed in hiding it, I often shed a tear of joy or two because of it.
I believe that one issue of great concern to the Apostle Paul was the fear that his church family would stop following the Lord after his departure. I believe it because of these words he wrote to the Philippians: “Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God's saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” (Ph. 2:12 NLT) I wonder how many of our departed brethren worried about their children and families once they realized they would no longer be here with them. Many people seem to believe there are no tears in Heaven. Perhaps my theology may be defective, but I believe the opposite. I just hope that mostly they are tears of joy and happiness and not another kind.
Memory verse for the week: (John 21:16) Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
PS: I purposely used the word “departed” and not “deceased” because our God is the not the God of the dead, but of the living