I have lots of pictures on my camera from the last few days . . .but the camera is sitting on the counter at my mother-in-law's house. I hate that I left it. I've wanted to post for several days but I just haven't been able to put my feelings into words. It has been such a sad week yet has ended in the joy of the resurrection - how does that happen? I guess that is what life is all about as a Christian.
On Thursday afternoon, our friend's ninth grade son found his 21 year old brother slumped over his desk. He had died of an overdose. Such a tragic loss. What makes this hurt even more is that the boy's mother . . .my very dear friend, Susan . . .died not even three years ago of cancer. How much can one family endure? But that brings me back to the joy of resurrection. God is with us in the sorrow. He promises to never leave us. Jake died on Thursday and Friday was such a "black" day for me. I was in a deep deep hole of sorrow. I needed to work on the Sunday School lesson because Glenn and Lauren were coming home and I wanted to be able to spend time with them on Saturday. Mark and Laura and I went to the Good Friday service at Trinity which is a service of darkness. The candles are extinguished one by one until darkness reigns. The cross is draped in black. At the end of the service, one of the minister's SLAMS the Bible closed and they take the last candle - the light of the world - our Savior - out of the sanctuary. I was already in such a dark place and then we went to that service and the strangest thing happened. I felt God's presence once again. I mourned through the service yet I knew that Sunday - today - Easter - HOPE was coming.
I was able to finish the Sunday school lesson when we got home. This is part of this morning's Sunday school lesson that I would like to share:
The story of the resurrection of Jesus is powerful and deeply meaningful. It establishes the foundation of the blessing of eternal life. Jesus’ resurrection is God’s victory over death. No sealed and guarded tomb can defeat God’s power to raise Jesus from death to new life. The bonds of death cannot hold Jesus. We share in that final victory over death. Because of Jesus, our natural fear of death can be overcome. At the base of the fear of death is the threat of non-existence. Death is feared because it represents a myserious and unknown ending. We ask, “Is death it?” “What happens to us when we die?” But because we share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we know that death is not the end of our lives. We need not fear death. Easter proclaims that death is not a final ending BUT a new beginning. I want you to know that at this point, the writing of the lesson was sheer agony. I cannot tell you how many times I typed something and erased and read more and started typing again and erased. Over and over. How could I stand in front of the class and proclaim with boldness that death is not the end, when I was missing my friend Susan so very much and agonizing over the death of her son. What did I really believe? I finally came to the conclusion that I DO BELIEVE!! I believe in life after death - life in eternity with Jesus Christ. I wanted to tell one story but I realized that I had already used it so I put it in and took it out and finally decided it was worth re-telling again because there might just be someone in the class who needs to hear it again.
(found on the internet) - There was an old country doctor who would take his dog along with him when visiting patients. The dog would remain outside while the doctor went in for the house call.
On one occasion, the physician went to the home of a man with a terminal disease who didn’t seem to have much time to live. The man confessed to the doctor his fears about death and said, “What’s it like when you die?”
The doctor thought for a moment, then got up and opened the front door. His loyal canine friend, who had been waiting patiently on the porch, gleefully bounded in to join his master.
The doctor turned to the dying man and said, “Do you see this dog? He didn’t have any idea what was on this side of that door. All he knew was that I, his master was on this side of the door, and he wanted to be with me.”
“That’s how I feel about death,” the physician continued. “I don’t really know all the whats and hows about dying. I’m not totally sure what’s on the other side of that door. But I know who is there, and that’s enough for me. I’m looking forward to being with my Master.”
Death can be a frightening thing. There is so much uncertainty. There are a lot of things I just don’t know. – that is why I kept typing and erasing.
I don’t know for sure what is going to happen when we do but there is one thing that I do know for sure.
I do know who is waiting for me. I do know that I will leave this world to be with Jesus. That’s enough knowledge for me.
The apostle John wrote: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) We don’t know what we will be, but we will be like him. And we will be with him.
We do not die into a dark and lifeless void. We die into God’s loving arms. Death is not the final word about our existence – new life is. We have been on a Lenten journey together – over the weeks we have discovered blessings in some unlikely locations. The best blessing of all is this – “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God. God is with us. He is risen!