Thursday, December 1, 2011
Earlier this week the brother of one of our staff members passed away. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 8 months ago and despite all the treatments the cancer was too aggressive. I was asked to do the funeral in a neighboring town because of my relationship with the family and because of my own battle with lung cancer. I am sure that the service will be very personal and meaningful to all involved because of all the people that will be taking part and the large family who will be coming to celebrate his life.
As I was preparing his service this morning I got another call from the funeral home. A 101 year old woman had passed away. She had no real ties to the church, no family or real friends around, and they asked if I could do a graveside service for her tomorrow. They said, "All we need are a few prayers, the only person who will be there is a lady from LSS (Lutheran Social Services)."
Such polar opposites - a man who was too young and has an amazing amount of family and friends coming and a woman who outlived her friends and has no one to come and say their goodbyes.
And then, holding these two together, is the cross. The cross that is bare, the tomb that is empty, the promise of new life that holds on to all of us, even when we are struggling to comprehend why or how. Yes, it is the cross, the life-giving cross, that reminds us that there is always at least one, the one who created all, gives life, forgives, and empowers, who will be with us every step of the way, even when we take that step into the grave ourselves.
So today I celebrate the lives of two people, two children of God, to forgiven sinners. For God has blessed them with amazing gifts and promises, and they will be fulfilled.