Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Resurrection of the Body

A huge cemetery. A blanket of snow dotted with thousands of evergreen wreaths tied with red ribbons. A group of mourners gathered around the casket and the hole in the dirt.

Does sound carry better over snow and ice than it does over a carpet of green grass? Was Pastor speaking particularly loudly to ensure that he was heard over the traffic on nearby highway? Whatever it was, his voice positively boomed that frigid day at the cemetery: "Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and merciful Savior, deliver us not into the bitterness of eternal death."

And we prayed, "I believe in ... the communion of saints ... the resurrection of the body ...." Umm, this is a cemetery; this place is full of saints! As you gaze across the snowy fields, recognizing that under each wreath a person is buried, you begin to wonder what this place is going to look like on the Last Day, and you begin to think about that last chapter in Narnia.

Not everybody in the cemetery is a believer -- but a whole lot of them are. When we buried Dad, Pastor Wright prayed "by Your three-day rest in the tomb You hallowed the graves of all who believe in You." But think about it: that's not true of only that one grave. Those same words have been prayed for centuries at Christian burials. His words were true of my grandparents' and great-grandparents' graves nearby.

And when we were burying Don the other day, Pastor's words were not about Don alone. Nor about us alone. But about all those saints sleeping around us: "By Your death You destroyed death" and "in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in Christ Jesus, who will change our lowly bodies to be like unto His glorious body ..."

God's Word certainly creates faith. God's Word certainly sustains and preserves faith. But God's Word also created and sustains stuff, the light and the land and the sea and the mountains and the trees and the critters. And it's good that His Word keep ringing out through the cemeteries, not just for the deceased's burial, not just for the mourners who are there for those few minutes, but for the sake of the creation and the brothers and sisters who are awaiting the morning of the new creation.

1 comment:

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    I think this is part of the reason why I always feel so comfortable and peaceful in the little country cemeteries--most of which are or were churchyards--where my grandparents, great-grandparents, and more are buried. There's a sense of them being hallowed places.