Last weekend we had a memorial service. The family asked if they could leave the flowers brought to honor their loved one for our worship service the next day. So, on Sunday morning they were placed in the sanctuary, we had decided to not put out the arrangements on stands just didn’t feel right. But, someone went ahead and placed them by the front door anyway. While headed to my office one of our parishioners saw the flowers stopped me and asked, “Are we having a funeral at the church today?”
Without thinking I replied, “I know we are 131 years old but we aren’t dead yet! I believe God still has work for us to do.” Then I saw the reason for the question at which point I moved the flowers.
But there was some truth to the question. At the very center of Christianity is this reality of death and a future life with God. Edward J. Farrell wrote, “The heart of Christianity is a cross, the sign of a love unto death, and beyond into resurrection. I am beginning to understand that there is no way of following Jesus except by undergoing what he underwent. Unless I die, I can never bear fruit.
No one in the world can escape suffering, but not all suffering is the cross. Suffering cannot be avoided, but one can escape the cross. The cross must be a choice, a free decision, or it is not the sign of Jesus’ love. The cross is an invitation; each person must say yes. No one becomes a disciple without saying yes to Jesus taking us, breaking us open, and passing us around.”
So the church is not dead, there will be no funeral for our worship service today. But you and I? We must make our own choices as how to serve. Will we follow our Jesus? Will we take up the cross knowing there is discomfort, there is pain, there are things I must let go of so I can experience resurrection?
Dear God, give us the words to pray this day. Load upon our hearts the shared sorrows of others and the joy of the morning. Give us the opportunity today to share your love. Amen.