I just finished my first funeral in Winchester. The lady was a pillar of the church and women's groups for years. Only four days into this, many people commented, "What a way to start off!"
It was nice to hear the empathy. It is sometimes difficult in a new place to say the right things...or especially for me to NOT say the wrong things:) The people here are hospitable and have been very nice to us so far.
Being an associate pastor for four years, I have done several funerals for people outside the church, so I was actually OK with doing a funeral of someone I didn't know. In fact, as I have been reflecting on the circumstances, I thought "What better way to start a ministry...Celebrating a saint's victory through Christ over death!"
I am reminded of our communion liturgy: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again!
Indeed, we get so caught up in "stuff" at the church. Today was a day when "stuff" doesn't matter. We grieve the loss of a friend. We comfort a family grieving. We celebrate this saint being embraced safe in the arms of Jesus for all of eternity.
Brothers and Sisters, Christ had died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again! This is our hope and our faith. Christ has died. In his death and suffering, our sin, our shame, our guilt die on the that ugly wooden torture device called the Cross. In Christ's rising, we too share in the victory over death and the resurrection of the dead.
Yet, not all is right. All the junk of life: hurts, hunger, poverty, hatreds, murder, jealousy, sickness, and death remain. Yet, Christ is coming again. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Eden restored. And there will be no more tears...and the Lamb will be our light.
Yes, it was a great start to an appointment. Let's celebrate! A saint has overcome.