I went to two funerals this week, each a lovely and poignant blessing. I went as a bystander, a friend, a comforter, for I did not know either of the faithfully departed well. But I was honored to enter that sacred time, a place of pain and joy.
I am leaky vessel. Joy pours in, and tears flow out. What joy, you may ask. The joy of thankfulness I see on the faces of the family as they recognize their friends in the pews. Their haggard expressions melt and mellow, resting in the strength of those around them. They are surrounded by their friends, the cloud of witnesses who willing walk the road with them. The joy of a favorite hymn. The words so lovely, they do not permit me to continue. I just stop and let them wash over me. Ancient truths so powerful, I have to swallow back my emotion. The joy of the bread and wine lifted up, sacraments of hope and promise and life in the midst of suffering, pain and death. We can’t go to the altar without a reminder of our torn flesh, and yet we are comforted there. What is so beautiful about a funeral that brings me to tears?
I read somewhere this week that real joy cannot be fully experienced without some knowledge of pain. What is this strange relationship between suffering and glory? How much will we endure the one to achieve the other? I don’t know. I don’t know that my willingness to endure pain has ever been a conscious decision. Perhaps only a response to a power that enveloped me and buoyed me -that power called Love. A Force, a Presence so influential that it carries one like a wave onto the shores of a land unlike another. Shores of lightness and light. Shores of well-being and strange gladness. A place absolutely perfect… and always just out of our reach, until pain opens that door and Love pushes you through.
This week we will attend another funeral service, and we will hear another story of one older than time, but also a life ended too young. We will enter that story of a man, a mere man,
who for the glory set before him, willingly endured the pain. We will hear accounts of thorns and blood, of spit and dirt, of
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brokenness, thirst and darkness. Deep in the bowels of a shaken earth we are invited to enter, and imagine the unimaginable. The annihilation and ruin and defeat of all that is utterly pure. We won’t want to do it. But we will do it as casino online bystanders, as a friend, as a comforter of the One who was willing to walk through it.
We will stand for just a moment, between words of a song we cannot sing, and just when the blackness is too deep, a light will glint through a back window unexpectedly reflecting upon our faces, and we will know for just a moment, we are standing Keep the lesson short – around 30 minutes – and make sure you enter that time in the log book within The online defensive driving Companion. on the other side of eternity. Love will usher us in, even in the midst of pain and suffering and death.
Who is this King Glory? Oh, that we could know him, from whose “head, his hands, his feet sorrow and love flowed mingled down! Did e’er such love and
sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”1
For your Holy Week, I pray. May you enter into a love and joy so deep it overpowers all your pain.
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“Oh my friend, my friend indeed, who at my need, his life did spend” 2
1 Words by Isaac Watts, from the hymn “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”
2 Words by Samuel Crossman (1624-1683) from the hymn “My Song Is Love