Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? - John 11:40
I have led thirty-three funerals in my time as a pastor here at Bethany, and death still sometimes feels like a stranger to me. You see somebody you know and love here one minute and the next … they are gone. Like Lazarus, I sometimes expect them to jump up and throw off death just as Lazarus tossed aside his shroud. I still sometimes expect to hear their voices echoing off the walls of our sanctuary or catch them sitting in their favorite pew.
The first funeral I did at Bethany was for John Michaels. I can still picture him sitting in a chair in the office, preparing his handyman list for the day. I can hear Judy Engebretson regale us with her stories from abroad or Pastor Linstrom’s distinctive voice as he read the Gospel.
You probably feel the same way about many of your loved ones. You hold memories of a beloved grandma bustling about a kitchen, or grandpa reading stories to you on his easy chair. They are no longer here, but you can still see them in your mind as clearly as if they were here in front of you. Those memories we cling to as sure signs of our love for them.
That’s what this Sunday is all about: All Saints Day. It’s a day to remember, honor and cherish those memories as we proclaim the good news of the resurrection, with faith in our savior, Jesus Christ.
The beauty of our faith is that we proclaim that death is not the end. Through our baptisms, we are connected with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in ways that are beyond our understanding.
Sometimes I wish, as your pastor, I could tell you exactly what your loved one was up to. Where are they? What is heaven like for them? Are they the same or are they changed? Those are things I can’t answer for you.
But what I can do, is echo the words of Jesus to you, that if we believe we will see the Glory of God. And maybe someday, like Martha and Mary, we will witness resurrection for ourselves, knowing that nothing in this world, life or death, can separate us from the love of Christ.