When we hear the Gospel reading from Luke 24:1-12, we hear one of the phrases in Scripture that is so important, yet so overlooked: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” There is so much faith and hope in these words!
These words are true not only for Jesus, but for us. Yet, why do we, in so many cases, keep looking for those whom God has called into God’s nearer presence, as though the grave/columbarium/wherever is the end of the story? For all those who have been baptized into, lived and died in God’s fellowship, it’s not the end by a long shot.
It’s often said that death brings out the worst in people. Things often change for the worse in a family after losing one of their members, and some of the turmoil is caused by common beliefs that aren’t truly Scriptural, but people insist on clinging to just the same.
Grief is difficult, and often compounded by guilt and mourning what could have been. When family members somehow feel as though following every final wish to the letter is absolutely sacrosanct, the focus shifts away from the Christian hope and onto death.
Maybe if we were to focus on what God did for us through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, we could allow ourselves to step away from the tomb and into a fuller, more abundant life. Here are a couple of thoughts for your consideration:
- Do not stand at my grave and weep.
- I am not there; I do not sleep.
- I am a thousand winds that blow.
- I am the diamond glints on snow.
- I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
- I am the gentle autumn rain.
- When you awaken in the morning’s hush
- I am the swift uplifting rush
- Of quiet birds in circled flight.
- I am the soft stars that shine at night.
- Do not stand at my grave and cry;
- I am not there; I did not die. – Mary Frye
From the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, re: the Burial Office
The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all meaning in the
resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, shall be
The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that
“neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else
in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ
Jesus our Lord.”
This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love
we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted
by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we
rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord,
we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.