March 31, 2020by Reverend Dan on March 31, 2020
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I officiated a graveside funeral service yesterday. It was the first time I had been out in a while and although the reason for going out wasn’t what I would have chosen, it was nice to step outside the four walls of my home. I expected to drive to the cemetery, lead the worship, and head straight home, which I did. What I didn’t expect was what happened along the way. From the time I left the house until the time I got home; God never stopped reminding me He hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, everywhere I turned, there He was.
The first thing I noticed was that with most folks staying at home, people’s yards are the prettiest I’ve ever seen them. We had a beautiful weekend (a little hot for March for my tastes), but you could tell what everyone had been doing this weekend. Flowers were filling yards with a kaleidoscope of colors; there was dark, rich mulch lining the flower beds; and the dew from the recently mowed grass was glistening a bright green. I’ve never seen Burlington so dressed up. God’s hand of creation, even in a COVID-19 world, is still creating new and beautiful.
Next was the old cemetery in the middle of town. It sits on a little ridge and as I drove through the gates, the sun was shining and spreading yellow and orange hues across the manicured lawn. Amidst all the headstones and monuments in the cemetery which remind us of death, I saw a small family mausoleum in the cemetery, and the door was ajar. All I could think of was the passage from Mark that says, “and when they looked up, the stone had been rolled away”. Even in the midst of death, God was reminding me He is still here, and therefore death will never have the final say.
As we started the service, ten of us spread out to observe social distancing, I repeated the comforting and familiar words of the 23rd Psalm, and together we recited the Lord’s Prayer. And even though there was distance between our bodies, our spirits were united in one as together we prayed to our Father. I could feel Him then, too.
For a few, brief, moments, I spoke about a life that had seen 90+ years and all the changes in the world that came with it. Wars, the invention of television, men walking on the moon, phones in our pockets. But I realized that no matter how advanced we may become; the world can still be brought to its knees by an invisible little virus. In reading the words from Revelation, however, I was reminded that this fallen world, at least in its present condition, was never meant to be our home. Because of the grace of God, we will live one day in a world where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
When it was all over, I got back in the car and drove home even slower than usual. (My family would say for me to drive slower than usual would mean I was standing still). I took in all the sights I could and with each one I remembered that even when the bad news of the world drowns out the voice of God, all we have to do is open our eyes and be reminded that He is right here with us. In the beauty of the world; in the promise of salvation; and in the center of our hearts.
Ironic that it took a funeral to remind me how good life really is? I think not. It was another funeral on a Friday afternoon that gave us all the promise of eternal life.
“Father, Thank you for opening my eyes in new ways to Your presence which never leaves us. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”